[This article is originally published in thenextweb.com written by IVAN MEHTA - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Dana W. Jimenez] 

Google has launched a dedicated dataset search website to help journalists and researchers unearth publicly available data that can aid in their projects. Traditionally, researchers have relied on sources like the World Bank, NASA, and ProPublica or search engines like Kaggle. This new tool will make their work much easier.

The website takes Google’s familiar approach and design for search and applies it to datasets published across the web. So if you need to look at historical weather trends, you can use a simple query like “daily weather” to begin your research. Plus, the engine supports shortcuts that work on Google’s regular search tool, like ‘weather site:noaa.gov’ to retrieve results only from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agency in the US

The company explained that the new tool scrapes government databases, public sources, digital libraries, and personal websites to track down the datasets you’re looking for. If they’re structured using schema.org’s markup or similar equivalents described by the W3C, Google can find it. It already supports multiple languages and will add support for more of them soon.

This year, Google has focused on a lot of initiatives directed towards journalists. In July, it had rolled out an improved representation of tabular data in search results. In India, it has launched a program to train journalists to identify misinformation. And at its developer conference earlier this year, it rolled out a revamped Google News with improved personalization and discovery features.

Categorized in Search Engine

Google has said that mobile visits to travel sites now represent 40 percent of total travel traffic. Responding to this shift in consumer behavior, Google is introducing a range of new mobile hotel and flight search tools.

Google will now let mobile users filter hotel search results by price or rating (I captured the screens below this morning). In addition, Google says that hotel search will respond to more precise queries such as, “Pet-friendly hotels in San Francisco under $200.”

Google hotel filters

Mobile users will also see new deal labels when a room rate is below traditional price levels. This is similar to a feature that Google previously offered with desktop hotel search results. The company will also provide money-saving “hotel tips.” They appear to be based on travel date flexibility:

We may show Tips to people when they could save money or find better availability by moving their dates slightly. For example, you may see a Tip like, “Save $105 if you stay Wed, Jul 13 – Fri, Jul 15.“

Finally, Google will now offer airfare price tracking. Users can track fare changes on specific routes, airlines and dates. Travel searchers will then receive email alerts and Google Now notifications when prices “either increase or decrease significantly.”

Starting now, these changes will roll out first in the US and later across international markets.

Source:  http://searchengineland.com/google-offers-new-hotel-search-filters-deal-labels-airline-price-notifications-253817

Categorized in Search Engine

Attend our free webinar July 12 and discover SEO, social media and content tactics to boost your brand’s online visibility.

When you hear the words "penguin" or "panda," you likely think of the adorable animals you saw during your last trip to the zoo. If you are familiar with Google’s constant algorithm updates, however, these terms mean far more than adorable black-and-white animals.

Google algorithm updates could have had a detrimental impact on your website. If you ever notice that your website’s search engine ranking position has suddenly plummeted, Penguin or Panda could be the culprit. And chances are, you probably haven't even received a warning or notification from Google.

I was brought onboard to help a $1 billion dollar company recover from a major Google penalty -- and I have helped many companies since. Once their site was dinged by Google, the company suddenly saw their rankings plummet, which directly impacted their bottom line.

My goal in this article is to teach you, much like I taught that company, how to identify whether or not your website has been negatively impacted from a Google penalty and what steps you can take to recover. I'll talk about best practices for proactive measures during this tough time so you don’t dwell on the negatives -- but actually go on to grow your business.

What exactly are Penguin and Panda?

Jennifer Slegg of thesempost.com wrote a great article on “Understanding Google Panda.” Slegg explains Google Panda as "one of the search engine's ranking filters that seeks to downrank pages that are considered low quality. Sites with higher quality and valuable content rise in the search results. But it is easily one of the most misunderstood algos. Search Metrics provided insight on the different ways you could have been hit by a Panda algorithm update and how to prevent this.

Penguin, according to Search Engine Land, launched in April 2012 to "better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings."

Barry Schwartz reported reported in January of 2016 that Panda is now baked in as one of Google's core ranking algorithm. There will be a similar tone for Penguin, according to Schwartz. “We know the next Penguin algorithm should be the real time version and with real time algorithms, they don't get pushed out on occasion, instead, they run all the time. So new Penguin penalties and recoveries will happen all of the time.”

My issue with Google’s algorithm updates

Google has to make sure webmasters don’t manipulate its core search algorithm. Otherwise, undeserving websites would populate towards the top of the search engines.

If there were no penalties for insider trading, would there be people who would reap the benefits from secretive information about publicly traded companies? Absolutely. This isn’t to say that the SEC catches everyone, but traders who try and manipulate the system know there is a penalty and risk if they get caught.

The same is true for Google regarding how they monitor their search results. If they see a website trying to take advantage of their algorithm, they need to take action.

My big issue is the lack of transparency. There have been many instances when a small business owner has approached me about his inability to rank anywhere on Google for keywords related to his or her local business.

After doing research, I would discover the reason their business was unable to rank was due to terrible links built to their site or duplicative content that was created. The worst part is that the business owner would have no idea this even took place. That’s right, Google sometimes informs webmasters via its search console whether their site has had a “manual action.” There are many instances when there will be no warning about a penalty and it takes someone with SEO knowledge and expertise to discover this.

Going back to the insider trading scenario, imagine if your financial advisor picked a stock and had inside information on the trade. His buddy worked for a publicly traded company and he knew that they were going to crush it on their upcoming earnings. He made this trade without your knowledge. Now imagine if the SEC came knocking on your door with a subpoena for insider trading. Would this be fair? I don’t think so!

Google must become more transparent and inform everyone whether or not their site is being held back by a previous action that has been done incorrectly. Business owners might have signed up for a backlink package from an offshore account for $50 when they heard the pitch of “guaranteed first page results.” If you are on a shoestring budget and don’t have the time or expertise with SEO, this might sound like a good option, right?

*Note: Don’t ever sign up for an SEO package that offers “guaranteed first page results.” This is an unrealistic promise that will have more of a negative impact on your site.

These business owners often times don’t have the slightest clue that these actions will negatively impact their search rankings. An attorney in Phoenix might have thought it was a good idea to create numerous local pages throughout the entire state of Arizona to get more exposure in other cities, even though he didn’t have an office in those other locations. Little did he know he would get dinged by Panda since the content was duplicative.

If Google would just inform business owners and webmasters of an action which they deem to be detrimental, webmasters would learn their lesson and fix the issue. On the contrary, with the lack of transparency, business owners have no clue how to fix the issue and this can literally kill their business.

How to recover when Google has dinged your site

Below are some best practices to see whether or not your site has been hit by a Google penalty. Each website and each scenario is different, so I always advise consulting with an expert.

1. Check search console. 

Within your Google search console dashboard, you will see a “Search Traffic” tab. Within this tab, select “Manual Actions.” This will give you insight on whether or not Google has directly informed if your site was hit with a web spam action.

2. Check your backlink profile (Penguin related).

If your website is connected with Google Search Console (formerly Webmasters) you can “Download your latest link report.” This will show you all of the backlinks that have been built to your site. If you notice a lot of low quality links on spammy websites, this is a clear cut sign that you could be suffering from a link-based algorithm update.

My recommendation is to go through each and every one of the links and add any link you deem as low quality into an Excel file. Run this list you accumulated by an SEO expert. If you confirm that your links need to be disavowed, you’ll need to create a .txt file and upload your links through this process on Google’s search console. Marie Haynes, who writes for Moz, provided a great guide to using Google’s disavow tool.

3. Analyze the content on your website (Panda related).

Is there duplicative content on your website? Could Google be seeing some of the pages you created as low quality and manipulative? It can be very tricky to detect whether or not your site has been dinged with a content based algorithm, often times referred to as Panda.

I would recommend sharing your site with someone knowledgeable in search engine optimization and digital marketing so they can provide an analysis on whether or not the content may seem manipulative or duplicative. If you have a ton of pages on your website, you can use a software such as Screaming Frog to run a scan on your site and easily organize the content structure on each one of your website pages.

4. Look at the change history.

Each year, Google changes its search algorithm between 500 and 600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a major algorithmic update -- such as Google Panda and Google Penguin -- that affects search results in significant ways.

Moz listed the major algorithmic changes that have had the biggest impact on search. If you noticed your site drop in ranking right around one of the particular dates outlined in Moz’s change history updates, it will be easier to identify the penalty that took place.

Focus on growing your business.

Too often, I will see business owners obsessing over a Google penalty. And they are right to do so -- it could be dramatically impacting to their bottom line. Make sure you take the appropriate actions to clean up your website so the next time Google runs a major algorithm change -- or if the update is in more real time -- your site has a strong likelihood to recover.

I also recommend trying to strengthen your business during this difficult time. Attend more networking events if your organic leads have dropped. Get more involved in public speaking and seminars related to your industry. Write more informative articles where you share your industry expertise to drive high quality referral traffic back to your site. Invest in social media marketing and Google Adwords to try and discover what message will generate you more leads at a profitable price point.

By taking all of the aforementioned proactive steps, by the time your site recovers from one of Google’s core algorithm updates, your business will have strengthened. At the end of the day, that is what Google wants to see. Natural traffic coming to and linking to your site based off of the different marketing and business initiatives taking place.

Source:  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/277467

Categorized in Search Engine

The world’s highest-capacity undersea Internet cable, a 9,000-kilmetre link between the US and Japan backed by Google has been activated.

The fibre cable, which can transport data at 60 terabits per second (60 million Mbps) is expected to be a significant boost to trans-pacific Internet speeds.

Google is one of six companies behind the project, alongside Asian telecoms groups. Google’s Urs Holzle said it had “more [capacity] than any active subsea cable.”

Stephen Lam / Getty Images

Demand for faster Internet speeds and extra capacity is increasing as more devices go online and amid the growth of cloud Internet services, which Google is a significant player in.

Almost all international Internet traffic runs via undersea cables, but in the Internet’s earlier days much of the traffic was via satellites.

The $390 million “Faster” cable system will connect to hubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, and two points in Japan.

Google is also backing a project to build a cable between Florida and Brazil due to be finished by the end of the year, while Microsoft and Facebook recently announced a trans-atlantic cable between Virginia Beach and Bilbao in Spain.

“Faster is one of just a few hundred submarine cables connecting various parts of the world, which collectively form an important backbone that helps run the Internet,” Holzle said.

Laying the cable under the sea requires specially-designed ships which can lay up to 125 miles per day. Although the optical fibres that transport data are extremely thin, the cables have to be reinforced with layers of tubing, steel wires and plastic to prevent damage.

The cables have become a target for shark attacks, with sharks possibly drawn to the electromagnetic signals running through them. Shark attacks forced Google to reinforce parts of its cable infrastructure with a special Kevlar coating in 2014.

Source:  http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/google-launches-9000-km-long-undersea-internet-cable-between-japan-and-the-us

Categorized in Search Engine

Google's Cardboard has proved to the masses that virtual reality is more than a pipe dream. Inexpensive cardboard headsets leverage smartphones to create makeshift head-mounted displays for low-level VR experiences.

For those whose fancies of owning a US$600 Rift or a $900 Vive were out of reach, Cardboard was a way to keep their imaginations captive while Google was dreaming of Daydream.

Coming two full Google I/O developer conferences after the introduction of Cardboard, Daydream gathers novel and nebulous ideas surrounding mobile VR into a cohesive ecosystem that someday could be a star.

Twinkle, Twinkle

Daydream builds on the Cardboard concept.

On the software side, Daydream and its VR tools will be baked into the upcoming Android N. Users will have the ability to switch between a traditional user interface and VR mode.

With Cardboard's cogs still in place -- things like VR versions of Street View and YouTube -- Daydream will arrive with a healthy amount of content. Further, Daydream-compatible apps from CNN, HBO Now, MLB.com, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Hulu, Netflix and IMAX are headed to the platform.

As for as hardware, Google has given top device manufacturers standards for developing Daydream-ready smartphones and headsets to hold them. Vendors selling the headsets will be required to package them with the Daydream remote control.

Nodding Off

Quietly, Google has been conquering the VR industry.While most of the press has gone to the high-end headsets, such as the Rift and PS VR, Cardboard has become the world's most successful VR platform.

Cardboard app downloads have surpassed the 50 million mark, Clay Bavor, head of VR at Google, said during Google's I/O 2016 developers conference last month.Those numbers are telling. Ultimately, Google has been looking to solve one of VR's most fundamental problems, suggested Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of YouVisit.

"While high-end developers like Oculus and HTC have worked to create headsets that provide highly immersive experiences, these pieces of hardware are very much unavailable to the general population due to their price tag and additional computer power needed to support them," he told TechNewsWorld.

As a result of its approximately $30-tall barrier to entry, Google's Cardboard platform has been a free-for-all to some degree, and its VR experiences are among the most basic of those on the market.

While hopes were high for a standalone headset to follow Cardboard, Google decided to make VR native to the phone, noted Marxent CTO Barry Besecker.

Google is "betting that mobile will be the key to VR proliferation, vs. desktop or console-based hardware like Oculus," he told TechNewsWorld.

Lucid Dreaming

Along with setting standards for Daydream hardware, Google will work to further establish itself in the VR market on the software side.

Through Daydream, "Google is helping to close another massive hole within the VR industry -- that is, the gap between the growing number of devices to view VR experiences and the limited amount of immersive content available to consumers," said YouVisit's Mandelbaum.

Google has kept consumers from nodding off while some awaited the release of the high-end headsets and others still await the affordability VR's second generation likely will bring.That said, even though Google's VR efforts have held the attention of the masses, it's premature to consider them a success, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

If Google sees Daydream through, the company's sheer scale and resources might help it claim ownership of the market-- but Google has developed a reputation for failing to follow through, he told TechNewsWorld.

"Daydream VR appears to be the new strategic direction for Google VR," Enderle said, but "be aware that Google has the attention span of a small child on sugar, so how long this will remain 'strategic' will likely be measured in months."

Waking Up

The noise Google has kept up with its VR initiatives may have kept consumers from falling asleep, but it also might be waking up the company's rivals. OnePlus, HTC and LG have gotten a relatively early start before VR rush hour arrives.

One Google rival might be sleeping in, though -- unless Apple is keeping long hours in a lab somewhere working on its own VR products, which is entirely possible, according to Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

"Microsoft is betting on HoloLens, and we still have to see what's up with Apple," he told TechNewsWorld. "Often Apple comes a little bit later than the others, but then they do it a lot better. I think that's the game plan here."If Daydream is everything Google hopes it will be, Apple could start to hear murmurs from its following if it doesn't come up with an answering volley.

While Cardboard eventually grew beyond Android to support iOS, Daydream is native to Google's mobile operating system.That could be risky, suggested Google may need to find away to support other platforms or it risks making the same mistake as Oculus and Samsung did, according to YouVisit's Mandelbaum.

Samsung's Gear VR, powered by Oculus -- a platform much like what Daydream wants to be when it grows up -- arrived with a built-in ceiling. Gear VR is compatible with just four Samsung handsets, he pointed out.

"In order to be successful in offering universal access and driving both viewership and creation," Mandelbaum said, "Google will need to shift to a more device-agnostic strategy that allows consumers access, regardless of their technology or location."

Source:  http://www.technewsworld.com/story/83620.html?rss=1

Categorized in Search Engine

Google is your portal to everything out there on the World Wide Web...but also your portal to more and more of your personal stuff, from the location of your phone to the location of your Amazon delivery. If you’re signed into the Google search page, and you use other Google services, here are nine search tricks worth knowing.

It probably goes without saying but just in case: only you can see these results. Nobody else can Google your next hotel trip. How well they work is going to depend on how plugged in you are to other tools like Gmail, but they’re useful shortcuts from the Google homepage or the Chrome address bar.

“I’ve lost my phone”

The newest one in our list, which is essentially an easier way to get to Android Device Manager. Google “I’ve lost my phone” to see the last known location of all the phones linked to your Google account. You can call and lock your phone as well as locate it, and it works with both Android and iOS devices.

“Contact <name>”

Get at your Google Contacts straight from the Google search page with this trick, simply adding the name of one of your friends or family members after the “contact” keyword. If there’s more than one match found, you’ll see a list of options—click on any of the results to initiate an audio call over Hangouts.

“My deliveries”

Next, a series of personal searches that tap into the information Google has from your Gmail account. Use “my deliveries” (or “packages” or “purchases”) to see recent orders stashed in your inbox—click on any of the entries shown on screen and you can see prices together with any available tracking details.

“My flights”

For a while now Gmail has done a very good job of spotting travel plans hidden among your email messages (it’s basically what Inbox is built on) and if you Google “my flights” you can see past and future trips through the air. Expand any entry in the list to see flight numbers, times, and other salient details.

“My hotels”

The “my hotels” search works just like the flights one, with Google tapping into your inbox to bring up all the hotel reservations you’ve made. Again, click on any entry in the list to see the details—you can jump straight to the relevant email in Gmail, get directions to the hotel, and see older reservations too.

“My shows”

Run a search for “my shows” and you see all of your upcoming plays, gigs and other events that you might have a confirmation for somewhere in your Gmail account. Google does a decent job of pulling out the right details for you. Use “my reservations” to see both hotels and shows in the same list together.

“My bills”

You probably don’t want to be reminded about upcoming bills you’ve got to pay or about any money going out of your bank account, but just in case... “my bills” will find it for you, provided that there’s some kind of record in your Gmail account. If you want any financial assistance, that’s a separate Google search.

“My events”

A quick way of setting everything that’s coming up in your Google Calendar. You can also run queries like “when’s my next appointment?” or “what am I doing next week?” to get personal answers from Calendar. Click on an entry to see dates, times, descriptions and a list of the guests signed up to attend.

“My photos”

Hello, Google Photos! Google can bring up a response to “my photos” and “my videos” provided you’re using its in-house photo storage service. You can even get creative: try “my photos of me” or “my photos of cats” and see what kind of a results you get. It’s all very slick and straightforward.

Source:  http://fieldguide.gizmodo.com/9-secret-google-search-tricks-1781341511

Categorized in Search Engine

Despite the tremendous technological innovation we’ve witnessed over the past two decades (smartphones, cloud computing, social networks), search interfaces and their underlying mechanics have remained fairly stagnant. The familiar portals of the early naughts are largely what we see today: empty text boxes, user-typed queries and blue-link responses that point users to web pages or documents.

We think of search as being a “state-of-the-art” product — an index that can provide answers on anything. But think about it. Isn’t it strange that some people are “good” at Googling, as if it’s a skill? If this were a human-to-human interaction and I asked my “smart” friend a question, I wouldn’t have to be “good” at asking questions to get the information I needed. She’s smart, she can infer what I’m saying, regardless of how I phrase it. If I’m ambiguous, she’ll ask for clarification. If my question is too broad, she’ll ask for more details. If I am too precise and she doesn’t know, she’ll inform me that she doesn’t know.

Why search isn’t working

Despite years of aggressive investment, search technology still fails to solve meaningful, tangible problems in the world today. This is largely due to:

No authority. When the Internet started, the digerati were the ones writing and sharing content. There were lots of answers to lots of questions, and we trusted the answers. Now, everyone writes and games the system, and the Internet is full of spam and trolling. Authority is becoming harder to obtain, and we’re left not only trying to decipher the information we’re reading but also wondering if the source we’re retrieving it from is credible.

Ultimately, you have no idea if the answer you’re getting is right or wrong. Google has made progress fighting spam, but the cold war between spammers and search is bound to continue until a paradigm shift occurs.

Higher expectations. People are becoming more data literate and expecting data and facts to back up their queries. Now more than ever, everyone is asking an increasing number of complex questions. In the past, people searched for the best ski resorts. Now, they want to know which ski resort has the optimal balance of vertical drop, skiable acres, and total snowfall. They have more precise questions; they want more precise answers.

Interfaces are shrinking. Perhaps mobile interfaces were once little desktop interfaces, but the paradigm continues to shift away from traditional GUIs. There is no space. We’re seeing an uptick in the popularity of voice interfaces. The traditional search experience with a bunch of blue links that open pages of articles and ads does not shine in a mobile world.

With the advent of the Information Age, people are increasingly digitally literate and have higher expectations of technology’s ability to answer their most complex questions — especially when they’re on the go. They’re not going to tolerate a slow experience, an ad that interrupts their workflow, or a system that fails to answer their questions.

Tomorrow’s search: more authority, precision, adaptability
Do we know what the future of search and information retrieval looks like? Not exactly, but we know it has to include:

Authority:  An evolved level of editorial oversight and curation of content, which will provide more authority.

Precision:  A precise understanding of what the user is asking, and being able to give them exactly what they need in a digestible and consumable format.

Adaptability:  An acknowledgement that society has evolved to consume different types of media beyond text — including data, videos, and visualizations — and being able to provide the user with the right format at the right time.

We’ve created a world where information is free and readily available for anyone who has a question. Incentives like advertising and online reputation are in place, encouraging people to share their wisdom. However, information in this system is created in fragments, requiring little to no production process. Communities like Stack Overflow and Quora are full of people willing to provide their “expertise,” but that doesn’t always align with the trust factor.

Additionally, continuing to have myriads of tiny websites with tiny edits from a million sources is not sustainable and will not suffice for creating an experience that gives people answers to unique, long tail questions, nor is it scalable or fresh. In order to build the next generation of search, we need to do more than just index other people’s content.

Knowledge graphs will power the new search

Google Maps is a great example of what the future of search should look like — augmented public data, powered by a knowledge graph. Google has thousands of employees on staff constantly correcting errors, machine-learning clusters interpreting addresses, cars driving through streets to get ground-level data, satellites taking photos, and millions of phones constantly sending updates. With this infrastructure, Google is able to maintain a real-time representation of the world and answer geospatial queries that have never been asked.

As humans continue to ask more complex questions, the future of search is going to need to adopt a similar model for every single knowledge vertical. This will be impossible if there isn’t a level of complexity and infrastructure built into the process. This same level of complexity and process needs to be applied to all data domains in the future. Google has started to provide more structured results in its search product, but it’s still lacking a lot of information. Given search was built on the foundation of crawling others’ content, where will this data come from? Will Google change its approach and become a content creator?

Google is actively investing in a knowledge graph, and it is not the only one. Microsoft, IBM Watson, Apple, Yahoo, and many others (yes, including Graphiq, the company I work at) are working on developing a knowledge graph of their own. A knowledge graph allows people to ask questions in a precise manner and instantly get an answer — even if nobody has asked the question before. The future of search has to be sufficiently broad in scope, precise in information, and instantaneous in delivering results.

Google’s dilemma

Despite being the strong and obvious player to lead search into the next century, Google will have to confront one of the biggest challenges any successful technology firm has to overcome — the Innovator’s Dilemma. It evolved in a desktop world, when it made sense for search engines to show content and ads side-by-side. But today’s world is not a desktop world. And when you make 90% of your revenue from advertising, how do you pivot? How about when mobile advertising is not working as well as we had hoped? How do advertisers display an ad on your Apple Watch? What do you do when there’s no clear answer as to how a voice interface (i.e. Siri) will ever generate revenue from advertising?

With each paradigm shift, the walls protecting incumbents will weaken, creating a window of opportunity for new players. Mobile has already put a lot of evolutionary pressure on search, and the imminent transition to conversational interfaces (voice and messaging) will push even harder. In many ways, Google is the best positioned to reign in this new world. It has the data and engineering expertise to do so. But it’s this very fact that puts Google in the middle of the Innovator’s Dilemma. If it disrupt the market, it will hurt its own bottom line the most. If a less qualified actor takes action, Google will innovate less, but its cash cow will live longer.

The big contenders

So who are the contenders to take over the billionaire business of information retrieval?

As predicted, Apple’s Tim Cook announced at WWDC this week that the company will be opening Siri to developers. But he didn’t stop there. Apple is aggressively investing in conversational interfaces and creating a whole new ecosystem, which includes opening iMessage to developers. A few killer apps could carve away market share from search engines: sport scores/stats, news, restaurant reviews. Will Apple’s new APIs be powerful enough to create the right opportunities? How quickly (if ever) will iPhone users embrace this new paradigm? How long will it take to develop critical mass with conversational apps?

Facebook didn’t impress with its first release of M, its intelligent assistant. But CEO Mark Zuckerberg is quickly developing his AI superpowers. Messenger and WhatsApp are the biggest chat platforms in the world. Smartphone users spend a LOT of time on Facebook-owned apps, likely more than on native iOS apps, such as iMessenger. With the shift from stand-alone apps to conversational apps, Facebook might have an upper hand over Apple.

Amazon is an interesting player right now. The company gets its revenue from retail, so it theoretically could provide free answers 24 hours a day, as long as there is an occasional purchase. Whereas, 90% of Google’s revenue stream is ads. With Amazon’s release of Alexa, you could argue the company might be the future of search. It’s not disrupting its own business model, it’s enhancing it. By getting people conditioned to talking to Alexa, they’re getting people used to talking to Amazon. What will this lead to? More purchases. They’re in a position to care less about ads; it’s all about the purchase.

Who will make this future a reality? Google has done a great job with maps but is struggling in disrupting itself with general search. Bing has done some interesting work in structured search, but nothing revolutionary over Google. Siri had an early shot, but Apple delayed further investments for years. Facebook had some good initiative, but we have yet to see something concrete. IBM Watson on the enterprise side, or the academic Wolfram Alpha could have a good hand, but we have yet to see traction. And then there are the smaller newcomers such as Graphiq, ViV, and Hound. The race to own the future of search has started, and one of the biggest businesses in history is up for grabs.

One thing is certain: Whoever wins will have to build the largest data library in the universe.

Source:  http://venturebeat.com/2016/06/18/the-big-search-upgrade-and-how-amazon-could-beat-google-at-its-own-game/

Categorized in Search Engine

 

Two months ago Google began testing the color of its ‘Ad’ tag in Google AdWords ads — changing it from yellow to green. What was spoken of as being just a test at the time appears to have been a success, as Google is rolling out the green ‘ad’ tag label to all countries on all devices.

It’s interesting to note that during the time Google was testing the green ad tag color it was also testing the color of its organic links. For a period of time in May, users reported seeing black links in their Google search results instead of blue.

 

By the company’s own admission it is always testing the look and feel of it’s search results pages and we have seen several examples of that this year. Another test that is currently ongoing is a new minimalist look for search results that users have reported seeing from time to time.

 

Why The Change?

After following some of the chatter about this news, I couldn’t help but stop to think about this question raised by Brad Longman:

 

 

Brad Longman @BradDLongman
Green Ads rolling out, Better for the user or just an attempt to make Ad's look like organic listings? #adwords #seo
1:21 AM - 16 Jun 2016

 

According to Google, the change was made because of positive feedback from users and advertisers.

Could it be that ads that look less like ads are getting clicked on more? That’s one theory as to why advertisers are liking it more. As to why users like it more, well it could be that a matching green color is more aesthetically pleasing than the contrasting yellow ad tag.

If you’re not seeing the green ad tags yet, you soon will as they’re said to be rolling out to everyone.

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-ad-tag-color-changed-green-color-url/166181/

 

 

 

 

 

Categorized in Search Engine

Google is extending its push into artificial intelligence with a new European research centre dedicated to advancing the technology.

Based in Zurich, the team will focus on three areas - machine learning, natural language understanding and computer perception.

Emmanuel Mogenet, who will head the unit, said much of the research would be on teaching machines common sense.

There was, he said, "no limit on how big I grow the team".

"We are very ambitious in terms of growth. The only limiting factor will be talent," he told journalists gathered in Zurich to hear more about Google's AI plans.

Neural network

Machine learning is already the "secret sauce" in a lot of Google products, said Mr Mogenet, including search, spam filters, translation and content removal, as well as newer products such as its virtual helper Google Assistant, messaging app Allo and self-driving cars.

"We are on the brink of a brand new era of computing," Mr Mogenet told journalists.
One of the key focuses would be on teaching computers "common sense", he said.
"A four-year-old child learns about the world through their senses so they know that cows don't fly without being told this. Computers need to understand some obvious things about the world so we want to build a common-sense database."

Another key focus will be improving human/machine dialogue.
"Google has always been in the business of natural language because that is how people search but we have never really understood the question. We have just matched keywords with content and rank that content smartly," he said.

"The next stage is to truly understand what people are asking."
Finally, the researchers would delve beneath the bonnet to try to understand "how machines learn and why deep learning works so well", he said.

Go game between Lee Sedol and AlphaGo

Google's high profile AI team DeepMind, based in London, has the broader ambition to "solve intelligence".

It caused controversy recently when it was revealed that it had been given access to the healthcare data of millions of patients as part of a partnership with the NHS to develop an alert system for kidney disease.
DeepMind research scientist Thore Graepel was at the Zurich event to give an update on its other high-profile project - a landmark battle between human and AI, in which its computer program AlphaGo took on the world's best Go player, winning four out of five of the games.

Key moment

Dr Graepel said Go players around the world are now "keen to play AlphaGo".
"There is a great desire to make it available in some form," he said.But first, the researchers have a rare opportunity to "debug an AI system".

"AlphaGo lost a game and we as researchers want to explore that and find out what went wrong. We need to figure out what its weaknesses are and try to improve it."One of the machine's moves - number 37 in game two, has been hailed by both Go and computer experts as a key moment for the game and for the development of AI.

"The move came out of nowhere. It stunned Lee Se-dol. It was the result of two neural networks working together and could represent the first signs of computational intuition and creativity," said Dr Graepel.

Source:  http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-36558829

Categorized in Search Engine

Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of filing for bankruptcy is the well-meaning condolence note from a friend. “I’m so sorry,” more than one has written. That sympathy is often followed by fear for what Facebook director Peter Thiel’s revenge campaign—a billionaire secretly funding lawsuits against publishers, editors, and writers for stories that disrespected him and his friends—means for the functioning of a critical press.

To those who have offered support, thank you. However, Gawker will be just fine, both in business and in spirit.

Here is the good news:

The future of the business is secured by a provisional sale agreement with Ziff Davis, and by our filing on Friday for Chapter 11 protection. The legal battle, separated from the ongoing business, moves onto the next round. The spirit that animates Gawker remains strong. The free press is vigorous. And the power of a shadowy billionaire looks much less alarming now that it has emerged blinking into the spotlight.

The Future of the Business

Gawker Media’s audience comes for the stories, and the default response of our writers when faced with a crisis is to write more. A thank you to them, and to all the readers who dropped by our sites on Friday, when news of the sale broke, to chat with our editors. Your participation is what makes Gawker’s sites communities as much as digital media brands. To the six million people around the world who each weekday come to Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Deadspin, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Jezebel, and Gawker: As long as you keep reading, we’ll keep informing and engaging you around the issues you’re passionate about.

Around here, save for the kegs of beer that arrived early on Friday, it’s business as usual. Writers are writing, the tech folks are keeping the pages loading, the ad sales team is selling, the e-commerce scouts are finding you the best deals of the day. We appreciate the support that agencies and advertisers have already shown, whether it is motivated by Gawker’s enduring audience appeal or the principle at stake.

There may be other bidders before the sale is finalized, but if Ziff Davis is the ultimate acquirer, Gizmodo and the other Gawker brands will become part of one of the most profitable, revenue-balanced and well-managed of digital media groups. Ziff Davis, which owns the video game destination IGN, earned $92 million on revenue of $225 million in the last 12 months. The media operation, if combined, will have the biggest audience in two growing media categories, technology and video games, with a strong presence in lifestyle, too. Ziff Davis anticipates expansion in video, commerce and on social platforms.

I have long encouraged Gawker writers to be honest about the motives behind what they write, so I will be honest about mine: We believe a sale now will maximize value for all stakeholders, and it is important to that end that potential buyers, current employees, and advertisers understand that the business continues to operate as usual. The media market is consolidating, and there is significant interest in Gawker Media as the last sizable digital property that has not yet been folded into an established conglomerate. While most of the proceeds from other digital media deals have gone to financial investors, at Gawker Media Group, the founders and employees own the bulk of the equity in the company.

Yes, Peter Thiel’s covert legal vendetta has undoubtedly depressed Gawker Media Group’s valuation. His onslaught, prompted by items about Thiel and his friends on Gawker’s Valleywag, has been financially draining. Whoever buys us, it will not be for the sort of headline price that Henry Blodget or Arianna Huffington received when selling Business Insider to Axel Springer and Huffington Post to AOL. ​So be it.

Wherever it ends up, the purchase price will also reflect the editorial choices we have made. Nobody goes into the news business, certainly not the convention-breaking news we and our readers love, simply to get rich. Better to risk, to win some and lose some, than pursue the path of least offense—at least if you’re a journalist. We have always put editorial credibility ahead of short-term commercial considerations, resulting in what we have internally called the “Gawker Tax” on our advertising revenue.

That tax has generally been worth paying; it is a choice we made. It is because Gawker’s stories are transparently more honest and more real that we could grow without outside capital or bought traffic. It is why, overall, our sites have held audience levels in the face of well-funded competition and the shift to social platforms. And it is the reason we can present such an upscale and engaged audience to advertisers.

The proposition that journalism should be an honest conversation between writers and readers has permitted us to build a solid, even enviable, business: an award-winning native advertising studio; a commerce operation which will drive nearly $200 million in sales this year for partners; and the best news discussion system on the web. Without exceptional legal and professional fees related to the Thiel campaign, the business is profitable.

We have drawn and developed prodigious talent: Gizmodo editor-in-chief Katie Drummond, who came from Bloomberg and has invigorated the tech site’s coverage of Silicon Valley; the creative writers in our advertising department; sellers such as Michael Orell and Daniel Morgan who care about editorial quality as much as any writer; dedicated managers like executive managing editor Lacey Donohue and vice president of product Lauren Bertolini; the coders in our Budapest and New York offices; and a crack legal team (we have needed it) led by our president and general counsel Heather Dietrick, to pick a few people out of many at random.

Though our company is inevitably best known for Gawker’s most provocative stories, the other six brands—Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Deadspin, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Jalopnik—represent the bulk of the audience and the revenue. They and all the exceptional people who make them happen will thrive under new ownership, with management oversight and financial underpinning from a larger company. As Wired put it: “They’ve got great niche audiences. They’ve got domain expertise. Their brands are easy to understand, which makes them easy to pitch to advertisers. Someone’s going to take those assets and make money.”

The Legal Balance of Power

In some countries, in a dispute between a magnate and an irritating writer, there would have been bullets in heads by now.

“The muzzle grows tighter,” writes the Economist. Freethinking Bangladeshi bloggers, many of them gay, are being dispatched with machete blows to the neck. The newly elected president of the Philippines has said that rights of free expression should not protect a bad journalist from assassination. Donald Trump, who kept a writer in court for five years after he dared write that the real estate billionaire was not as rich as he claimed, is a few percentage points away from the presidency.

But this is the United States, and Trump is not yet in power. We remain confident that justice will be done in the Hulk Hogan case.

March’s state court verdict was an outlier. Judges in federal court and the Florida appeals court have repeatedly determined the Hogan story was newsworthy because it joined a conversation about his sex life that the wrestling star had already begun. Most legal experts expect the $140 million judgment, which even plaintiffs’ lawyers ascribe to a runaway jury, to be corrected by a higher court. As a result, there ought to be little lasting effect on the balance between privacy and the free press.

There are two other active cases against Gawker in which we are being sued by Charles Harder, the attorney underwritten by Thiel. One is from a Los Angeles journalist who came to us with a story about Tinder that evidently didn’t turn out as she’d hoped. In the other complaint, a Massachusetts entrepreneur who claims he invented email—about a decade after email was invented—says he should not have been called a fraud.

Neither has merit.

U.S. law does still protect free speech more than any other country’s. If there is a threat, it is in the extent to which that law is increasingly a battleground of moneyed interests. As Gordon Crovitz argues in the Wall Street Journal, tort reform should be a cause for the progressive media, not just conservative business owners. Florida last year finally put in place provisions for unsuccessful plaintiffs to bear the costs of lawsuits designed to suppress public participation. Some would support a revival of champerty, the old English prohibition on aristocrats backing and influencing third-party lawsuits. At the very least, there should be public disclosure over who is funding cases in public courts that use public resources.

But reforms or no, the basic fact remains: if somebody raises a topic, you have the right to join in. Gawker Media Group has taken full advantage of that right.

The Spirit of Gawker.com

Some have raised doubts about the long-term future of Gawker.com, the site which has drawn the most fire over the years, because of its insolent tone, love of juicy gossip, and tendency to unearth skeletons. It would rather make an enemy or alienate a source than lose a story. The site has published an impressive list of scoops; it has also made many enemies, at least two of whom have combined in Peter Thiel’s cabal.

Do not fear—or gloat—too quickly.

Gawker.com was established in the early internet years as a thought-provoking alternative to a stodgy mainstream press, which so often skipped over precisely the most interesting aspect of a story—the version that journalists tell each other over a drink. The site has been a manifestation of the journalist’s rebellious id, the impulse to question the authorized version of the news, to puncture hype and mock hypocrisy.

The flagship news site’s incredible run of provocative journalism has revealed vile trolls on Reddit, crack-smoking mayors in Canada, Tom Cruise’s role in Scientology, the personal pain of unemployment, long-forgotten sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, Hillary Clinton’s emerging email scandal, and the ways the elite pass privilege down to their children, and their friends’ children. Here is a longer description of What Gawker Media Does. I hope that deep down, most other journalists would agree with Peter Kafka of Recode that the Gawker network has, stories about sex tapes notwithstanding, been “overwhelmingly a force for good.”

Where there is power, there will be gossip and criticism. The people require it. Bryan Goldberg of Bustle, himself a frequent subject of ridicule on the site, says Gawker.com is as indestructible as a New York cockroach. The brand is more famous than ever; if it does not fit an acquirer’s portfolio, Gawker.com will find an investor with a tolerance for controversy. I will happily contribute.

The Digital Press

The same independent and inquisitive spirit that animates Gawker is alive in the rest of the press. As Jonathan Mahler acknowledged in the New York Times, Gawker’s foundation has done more than any other “to loosen up the mainstream media.”

Over time, as bloggers and reporters have intermingled, the spontaneity of internet publishing has given a new energy to publications like the Times, and Gawker in turn has gladly embraced more of the practices and values of the newspaper press. Our writers and editor have adopted a formal editorial code. Gawker’s investigative reporters, under John Cook, who is now executive editor, have used FOIA requests to reveal how Hillary Clinton’s press minder manipulates journalists and twists arms, among many other exclusive stories.

Meanwhile, Gawker alumni are employed at almost every smart news organization, including New York Magazine, the New Yorker, New York Times, Vox, Wired and Business Insider. (Here is New Yorker staff writer Adrian Chen recalling Gawker as “a great place to become a journalist.”) Two of the three new David Carr Fellows at the Times got their starts at Gawker. Slate now requires a triple disclosure just to write about the company.

As odd as it may seem under the circumstances, it is heartening to witness just how extensive and uncowed the recent coverage of Peter Thiel’s secret financing of lawsuits against Gawker has been. Witness Wired’s over-the-top praise for the sensitive billionaire, the Taiwanese animators’ depiction of the him as an insecure supervillain, or the Economist’s jibe that he risks evolving from youthful genius to aging crank, his pursuit of immortality notwithstanding.

The recent spasm of disbelief and outrage over the revelation that his lawyer is now pursuing us over a much-lauded story about Trump’s hair—“a perfect example of the kind of chilling effect Gawker critics don’t seem to have taken into account when championing Hogan and Thiel’s victories,” the Verge writes—goes to show how Thiel’s strategy might have backfired. The next aggrieved billionaire may think twice before following his template.

We have a free and vigorous press to credit for uncovering the real motives of Gawker’s opponents. The purpose of Hulk Hogan’s initial lawsuit, to stop a racist rant becoming public, is now known, thanks in large part to media companies who asked the appeals court to remedy the trial court’s overly broad sealing of documents in the case. That Thiel’s role is also now public is thanks to a mixture of gossip, speculation, and reporting—the classic iterative process by which journalists, Gawker’s especially, winkle out a story.

Billionaire Power

None of this is to gloss over the enormous concentration of power among the emerging oligarchy. Silicon Valley industrialists are ruthlessly controlling of their public image, as Nick Bilton writes in Vanity Fair. “The system here has been molded to effectively prevent reporters from asking tough questions. It’s a game of access, and if you don’t play it carefully, you may pay sorely.” The Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou had to withstand months of legal threats to dispel the mystique surrounding Theranos, a fallen Valley unicorn.

Mother Jones has drawn attention to the campaign by another billionaire, Frank VanderSloot, who sought to drain them financially through litigation. Thiel has shown how easily an aggrieved billionaire can hide behind fronts, dark money and special purpose vehicles. These cases have illuminated the concentration of privilege and money in American life, and the power exercised behind the scenes without any public accountability.

The history of democracy—a form of governance that Thiel views as incompatible with liberty—can be viewed as a long-running street battle between the moneyed elite and the more populist institutions, like the press, that seek to keep them in check. The battle lines shift up and back, but the insistent presence of public debate and criticism have always served as a bulwark against rampaging power. Now, those age-old tensions are playing out on the internet. The rules of engagement will need to once again be rewritten. I hope the clash between Gawker and Thiel will produce at least as much light as it has heat.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes calls from the extremely rich to “not only be able to use their money without limit to shape the political process but to do so anonymously to avoid being ‘intimidated’ or ‘vilified.’” That the debate is happening at all is progress. If Gawker had to give up its independence for it to begin in earnest, at least the upstarts who come behind us will have a clearer understanding of the playing field, and the stakes.

If you take a long view, the system is working as it should. The courts will apply the law. The real story is coming out. It always does. All sides are facing criticism and examining themselves. And a debate about the limits of the free press, and the limits of unaccountable power, is taking place.

Peter Thiel will be, by the time the magazine profiles come out and the TV scripts turn into episodes, one of the classic characters of the Silicon Age. This is the ultimate Gawker story, a collision between power, celebrity, and the word. Only this time we are participants as well as observers.

We will each be caricatured, for sure; but we will also have plenty of opportunity to express our more provocative ideas. This is how a free society is supposed to work. A newly laid-back Jezebel has adopted an informal catchphrase, “It’s Fine.” To those who have written in with concern for our people, our business, and our mission, I have a similar response. It’s fine.

Source:  http://gawker.com/here-is-the-good-news-1781980613

Categorized in Search Engine
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