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GOOGLE CHROME users have been put on alert after thousands of people were tricked into download a dangerous download posing as a browser update.

Google Chrome fans are being warned about a fake download which has already tricked thousands users of the market leading browser. Google Chrome is the most popular browser in the world by a country mile, and it's not in danger of losing that illustrious crown anytime soon. Latest stats from NetMarketShare put Google Chrome as holding onto a 68.50 per cent share of the internet browser marketplace.

That's over two thirds of the market, and is far ahead of its nearest challengers Microsoft Edge and Mozzila Firefox.

These rival internet browsers hold 7.59 per cent and 7.19 per cent of the marketplace respectively.

And the huge Google Chrome user base have been put on alert about a fake download that has already tricked thousands of people.

Doctor Web in a post online revealed the existence of the dangerous Google Chrome download which poses as an update to the browser.

In total more than 2,000 people have downloaded the fake Google Chrome update.

Doctor Web said hackers had specifically been targeting Chrome users in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Israel and Turkey.

The security experts said: "According to the Doctor Web virus laboratory, the hacker group behind this attack was previously involved in spreading a fake installer of the popular VSDC video editor through its official website and the CNET software platform.

"This time the cybercrooks managed to gain administrative access to several websites that began to be used in the infection chain.

"They embedded a malicious JavaScript code inside the compromised pages that redirects users to a phishing site, which is presented as legitimate Google service.

"Target selection is based on geolocation and browser detection. The target audience are users from the USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Israel and Turkey, using the Google Chrome browser.

"It is worth noting that the downloaded file has a valid digital signature identical to the signature of the fake NordVPN installer distributed by the same criminal group."

As always a good anti-virus programme can help you detect any such threats and remove malicious software that does end up on your machines.

While you should always be wary if you randomly get redirected to a website asking you to download anything or input sensitive information.

This is not how companies alert users to important software updates, with Chrome in particular offering an auto-download feature for patches.

The news comes as in the past few days Google has released the latest version of Chrome, update 81.

However the search engine giant has opted to skip the planned-for version 82 of Chrome due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Chrome development team revealed the news on Twitter saying: "Due to adjusted work schedules, we’re pausing upcoming Chrome & Chrome OS releases.

"Our goal is to ensure they continue to be stable, secure, and reliable for anyone who depends on them.

"We’ll prioritise updates related to security, which will be included in Chrome 80. Stay tuned."

 

[Source: This article was published in express.co.uk By DION DASSANAYAKE - Uploaded by the Association Member: Patrick Moore]

Categorized in Search Engine

Google confirmed an update affecting local search results has now fully rolled out, a process that began in early November.

Screenshot 1

In what’s been called the November 2019 Local Search Update, Google is now applying neural matching to local search results. To explain neural matching, Google points to a tweet published earlier this year that describes it as a super-synonym system.

That means neural matching allows Google to better understand the meaning behind queries and match them to the most relevant local businesses – even if the keywords in the query are not specifically included in the business name and description.

“The use of neural matching means that Google can do a better job going beyond the exact words in business name or description to understand conceptually how it might be related to the words searchers use and their intents.”

 

In other words, some business listings might now be surfaced for queries they wouldn’t have shown up for prior to this update. Hopefully, that proves to be a good thing.

Google notes that, although the update has finished rolling out, local search results as they are displayed now are not set in stone by any means. Like regular web searches, results can change over time.

Google has not stated to what extent local search results will be impacted by this update, though it was confirmed this is a global launch across all countries and languages.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jasper Solander]

Categorized in Search Engine

“Search is not just about answering your questions -- it’s also about discovery,” writes Google product manager Michael Galvez.

Google has announced three new search updates around featured snippets, knowledge panel information and suggestions for related topics.

According to a post on Google’s The Keyword blog, a selection of featured snippets will now include more images and related search suggestions within the box displaying the featured snippet content.

It is also expanding the information displayed in the Knowledge Panel to include related content.

“For example, while looking at the Knowledge Panel about skiing, you’ll see related searches for sports such as snowboarding directly inside the result,” writes Google product manager, Michael Galvez.

Google says the expansion of related topics has not only been updated within knowledge panel information, but at the top of search results as well.

Related...

Using an example of searches for the famed soccer players Neymar and Messi, Google says searchers will see suggestions for related topics, “… to discover other athletes during your search session.”

In addition to these confirmed updates, it appears Google is also testing a new feature that displays a carousel with a list of answers directly within the search results snippet, as we reported earlier today.

“Search is not just about answering your questions — it’s also about discovery,” writes Galvez, who goes on to say the updates are meant to help searches further explore the topics they are researching.

 Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Amy Gesenhues

Categorized in Search Engine

Google boasts that its latest update to Google Translate has given it the biggest leap of the past decade in natural language translation.

Google Translate might not be as good as humans at translating language, but the search giant's recent work using neural networks to improve speech recognition and computer vision has made it hard to beat in machine translation.

The latest update to Google Translate utilizes Google's Neural Machine Translation (NMT) system for translating phrases, which is rolling out to eight language pairs.

Google actually announced NMT in September in a paper describing how it's using neural networks to close the gap between human and machine translation. However, until now it had only switched on NMT for Chinese to English translations.

The system still makes some mistakes, such as dropping words or failing to understand a person's name, but it has allowed Google to cut errors by 55 to 85 percent in several languages.

It also improved Translate's ability for contextual translation by analyzing a phrase or paragraph rather than a single word to reconstruct a more grammatically correct and natural translation.

Google has now rolled out neural machine translation for eight language pairs "to and from English and French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Turkish". The feature is enabled in Google Search, as well as in the Translate app and website.

These language pairs cover 35 percent of Google Translate queries, but Google plans to eventually enable NMT support for 103 languages.

"With this update, Google Translate is improving more in a single leap than we've seen in the past 10 years combined," Google Translate product lead Barak Turovsky said.

Turovsky also notes that developers can also access its Google Cloud Platform Translation API to give their apps some of the features that enabled NMT.

Just like Microsoft, Google is betting the future of computing lies in machine learning and to woo new enterprise customers to its cloud platform, it announced the new Cloud Jobs API to help business match recruits with career openings.

Google also announced its new Google Cloud Machine Learning Group would be headed up top machine-learning researchers, Stanford professor Fei-Fei Lie, and Jia Li, formerly a top exec at Snapchat.

Author:   Liam Tung

Source:  http://www.zdnet.com/

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

Google is increasing the number of queries that receive a Google Quick Answer box. The number of results that had an answer box went from just over 20% in December 2014 to more than 30% in May 2016.*Brands that wish to maintain a strong digital presence need to make sure their website is well represented within these rich answers.

Answer boxes provide users with scannable, easy-to-digest answers at the top of the search results so that users can find the information they seek without having to click off to another website.These answer boxes are pulled from high-ranking websites that Google trusts to provide users with the correct response. They appear most frequently in response to question queries, such as those beginning with ‘what is’ or ‘how to’.

As they become increasingly significant on SERPs, companies who are not optimized to receive Quick Answers have a good chance of falling behind and losing ground to others in their industry.

How do Google Quick Answers impact brands?

When Quick Answers first appeared, many site owners became nervous about the potential implications for site traffic. With the answer to many queries appearing right at the top of the page, users would theoretically lose their motivation to click through to the websites.

Some sites found this to be true. Wikipedia, for example, saw a drop in traffic that many attributed to the growth of Quick Answers. This is likely because the domain specializes in providing people with the type of rapid response that many can now receive right on the SERP.

 

However many business websites started to see tremendously positive results.

It is important to remember that Quick Answers are not just taken from results in position 1 on the SERP. The can come from any result on the page, although the majority come from the top 5 results.This means however that sites ranked in position 3 or 4 can receive an answer box and suddenly be front and centre on the page, without even earning the top ranking spot. This draws the user’s attention to this result and can have a very positive impact on site success.

Adobe, for example, benefited from a 17% incremental lift on topics on which it has secured the Quick Answer box. The results contributed to millions of additional visitors to Adobe.com.Kirill Kronrod at Adobe reported that within the sub-set of 2,000 How-To phrases, 60% produced Quick Answers, contributing to 84% share of voice with Quick Answer boxes for the main site and 98% including supporting sites.

Quick Answers help Google improve the user experience, and your brand needs to optimize to remain relevant.

The ABCs of succeeding with Google Quick Answers

quick answers

A) Understand the four key factors that matter for Quick Answers

Although there is no concrete formula that brands have to meet before they will receive a Quick Answer, there are a few commonalities that sites which earn the answer box tend to have.

Sites have over 1,000 referring domains
Pages rank in the top 5
Pages are less than 2,000 words
Pages have strong user engagement
All of these factors demonstrate to Google that you have a site appreciated by users and that offers value to readers. These factors show that you offer an authoritative resource, making you appealing to Google.

B) Find the best opportunities to explore

It is important to find opportunities where you have a reasonable chance of gaining an answer box.Since only one site can have it at a time, you need to have the domain authority and response needed to make your page stand out. SEO software can be an enormous asset in this quest.

You can research which keywords have high traffic and which ones already have Quick Answers. If the keyword already has a Quick Answer, you will need to investigate the page to see if you can outperform it.

If it does not, then you can see if an answer box would be the optimal display for the user. Make sure that the pages you select to optimize for the Quick Answers will lend themselves easily to you fulfilling the four key factors.

 

C) Optimize your site for the answer box

On-page optimization: you will need to follow on-page optimization best practices to improve the ranking of your site. These will include using your target keyword in titles and headings, linking to other pages in your site, and making your page more engaging with images and other rich media.

Remember that Google wants to be able to pull the answer quickly from your text, so include the answer to the target question in the first paragraph and use lists and bullets – which are appealing both for users and search engines – where possible.

Off-page optimization: you want to focus on cultivating backlinks, so look for opportunities to write guest posts to bring links to your site. It is also important to develop a thorough content distribution system that will attract attention to your content.

When people are exposed to your content and it provides them with value, they become more likely to share it with others and link back to it themselves. For off-page optimization, you also want to submit pages to Google Search Console to maximize visibility.

Technical optimization: use schema markup to increase visibility for your site. Schema was developed as means of providing search engines with an optimal look at your site. It will help the search engines quickly interpret your material, which will aid Google in its quest to quickly pull answers from websites.

Of course, your pages should also be optimized for mobile, since not being mobile-friendly can hurt sites in the SERPs and hinder the user experience. Also include your page in your XML sitemap to ensure that Google can easily find and interpret the material.

Google Quick Answers offer users an improved user experience, making them popular with the search engine. To remain relevant for customers, you need to follow these ABCs and ensure your site is optimized to provide the answer box for the key terms that are important for your business. For more information, check out our Quick Answers pdf guide.

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/07/05/the-abc-of-google-quick-answers/

Categorized in Search Engine

Google has announced its first artificial intelligence research lab outside the US in Switzerland. Headed by Emmanuel Mogenet, Google Research Europe will be based at the search giant’s Zurich office and focus on applying machine learning to Google products including Search, Photos, and Google's newly announced Assistant.

The team will reportedly be at least a few hundred strong. "We want to redress the balance of expertise between Mountain View and Europe,” Mogenet said.

The 49-year-old computer scientist, who sold his previous company to Apple in 2002, has been tasked with hiring as many European researchers as he can find, "the only limitation is talent," he said.

Google made its ambitions in AI clear in 2014 with its £400m acquisition of DeepMind, a British AI startup with no commercial products, which has hired at least 250 artificial intelligence experts in London.

Combined with the new Zurich team, the Californian company is amassing a formidable concentration of world-leading AI talent in Europe.

The new team has a distinct goal: to invent the future of Search, a voice-activated, human-like entity that can answer any query intelligently. “We are building the ultimate assistant. In two years, you can expect Google to become a personal life assistant across multiple surfaces, including your phone, Google Home, even cars,” Mogenet said.

Some of Google’s best-known products are already shaped by machine learning, the ability of computers to spot patterns in large datasets and learn by example. For instance, Google Photos uses it to understand the content of an image. This means you could search for “cardigan corgi” or “passport” or “birthday celebrations 2014” and the app will bring up the relevant photos.

Machine learning also powers the Smart Reply feature in Gmail which auto-suggests responses based on the text or photos in an email. Smart Reply, built in Google Zurich, is now used in over 10pc of all emails sent from Google’s Inbox app.

 

The big goal now is to apply it to search, the crown jewels of the Google empire.

In 2015, more Google searches occurred on mobile phones than desktops, the first time that was the case. It was also the first time voice searches grew faster than text-based searches, with voice making up roughly 20pc of all mobile searches, according to Behshad Behzadi, director of conversational search at Google.

In the last year, the error rate of Google’s speech recognition technology has dropped to 8pc which is a major contributor to its growing use, Behzadi said.

During a demo of the new voice-based Google Assistant, Behzadi showed off the AI’s understanding of context. For instance, asking “What are the rides at Europa Park?” followed by, “What are the height restrictions on Blue Fire?” and “How fast is it?” will return correct results without you having to clarify what Blue Fire, or “it” is.

There is currently a global race for AI talent, with major companies such as Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Amazon buying up AI startups around the world, and in Europe in particular.

“I can’t quantify our investment into AI, but it will eventually be embedded in everything,” Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google parent Alphabet, said in March. “They’re not in cul de sacs, they’re building things that will touch millions and millions of people.”

Source:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/06/17/googles-new-research-lab-in-zurich-is-inventing-the-future-of-se/ 

Categorized in Search Engine

I moved to America from Thailand when I was 9 years old – old enough to have learned how to read, speak, and write basic Thai words but not advanced enough to write a professional cover letter or blog post.

It’s somewhat of a difficult language – Thai has 44 consonants, 22 vowels, diphthongs, and triphthongs, and five tones. The Sanskrit-based language can appear intimidating to those unfamiliar with the alphabet, and even some local Thais have difficulty spelling some words due to all the characters involved.

So even though I’m generally able to read Thai, it’s been extremely difficult to type it. After all, most keyboards don’t support all the characters involved, and when you don’t use it all the time, it’s hard to remember where the locations of each alphabet are.

Thai-Keyboard-23

And now that we live in a messaging-based world, it’s become that much more difficult for me to communicate with my mother, who does not read English well. My go-to trick has been to type out individual words I want in Google Translate then copy and paste them until they form a complete sentence, but at that rate I might as well just call her on the phone. Which, of course, can be inconvenient in its own right as we both have full time jobs and busy schedules.

*Long sentences on Google Translate to Thai generally make for very awkward translations

Here’s where “Karaoke Thai” comes along.

karaoke thai example

In Thai culture, most music videos have English phonetic spellings of each sentence underneath the Sanskrit, which is incredibly helpful for new language learners to follow along. I haven’t been able to use Karaoke Thai to communicate with my mom because she still has difficulty parsing the sounds of some English words, but the latest update to Google Input Tools may just change all that.

Now, when you type in Karaoke Thai, Google may suggest words you meant to say and instantly convert it into Sanskrit. To get it, you’ll need to download the free extension for your Chrome browser. You can even type full sentences in Karaoke Thai and it will automatically translate them.

For many people reading this post, this tool might not mean a whole lot. But for many Thais, it means easily communicating with their peers, family, new expat friends. It may be my favorite thing Google’s ever released.

I write about new technology every day, and while new Google AIs and gadgets may change the way we’ll live in the future, sometimes it’s the smallest updates that will evolve the way my mom, my grandmother, and I can finally communicate with each other present day when we’re afar.

Source:  http://thenextweb.com/google/2016/06/15/googles-new-input-tool-will-finally-help-digitally-communicate-mother/#gref

Categorized in Search Engine

On the weekend of May 28th, more than 400,000 people gathered at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. Machines worth millions of dollars flew around the 2.5-mile long course at speeds of 230 mph and faster.

The scene at California’s Thunderhill Raceway was decidedly more tame. Located three hours north of San Francisco in the golden foothills of the state’s Central Valley, Thunderhill was hot and windy that weekend. Jim Burke, co-founder of the Power Racing Series, and Eli Richter, a member of HackPGH, unloaded a vehicle from the back of their truck by hand. It was, ultimately, a one-man job: the SLAMborghini, as it had been christened, was a matte-black Lamborghini Power Wheels car, outfitted with a set of low-cost sensors to enable basic autonomous capabilities.

The Power Racing Series crew was one of a dozen or so teams that attended Self Racing Cars, an autonomous vehicle race series recently launched by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Joshua Schachter. With no restrictions or qualifications, the event attracted a motley crew of established parts suppliers, startups, investors, and media outlets eager to catch the spectacle. Comma.ai was in attendance, fresh from their press day in Las Vegas, as were autonomous vehicle software developer PolySync, automotive supplier Denso, Chris Anderson’s Right Turn Clyde go-kart, and others. Renovo showed up with its perfectly polished $529,000 electric Coupe, but left the self-drifting Delorean, Marty, at home.

Self Racing Cars lede

Ahead of the weekend, it was unclear what to expect. Outlets like Jalopnik promised the event would "push driverless cars to their limits." Schachter himself was keen to manage expectations. "I’ll just have an event and see who shows up," Schachter told The Verge in April. "If people showed up with a self-driving jalopy, I’d be thrilled."

Ultimately, the event was part track day and part marketing demo, with well-moneyed types circling the parking lot and eying engineers. But more than anything, the first installment of Self Racing Cars felt like an engineering hackathon. 

In that sense, Schachter said, the series harkens back to the birth of motorsports. "When racing started you didn’t just buy a car and start racing it — you had to build a car," he said, standing in front of the wind-swept track. "At its inception, racing was as much about engineering as it was competition."

Burke, of Power Racing, echoed the sentiment. "This event at Thunderhill is incredibly valuable to the autonomous community," he said. "A lot of this technology, you hear it in the news all the time — but there’s still a lot of testing miles." Burke and Richter had other motives, too: they’re trying to launch a national low-cost ($1,000 and less) autonomous Power Wheels series for high schoolers. "We’re here to make the connections to help our series grow," Burke said. "We need someone to help us grant write, or underwrite, or anything. We’re as grassroots as it gets! We’re punk rock racing."

The track days were broken up into 25-minute slots, with each team granted multiple runs to test the mettle of their machines. Faced with a twisting, no-holds-barred track, the vehicles revealed their shortfalls quickly: PolySync’s autonomous braking system malfunctioned, preventing a fully autonomous run; the SLAMborghini could only operate under remote control; and Comma.ai’s new $50,000 GPS unit failed — the team was forced to rely on a program their intern wrote on short order 

Self Racing Slamborghini

 "All of our technology sounds great on paper," said 3D Robotics’ Chris Anderson, sitting in the back of his cargo van. The go-kart he built with Autodesk president and CEO Carl Bass was piloted by a stuffed gorilla, and had suffered a radio link failure. "The beauty of this [track day] is that it’s going to find every possible flaw."

 

That’s not to suggest that none of the cars found their way around the course. AutonomouStuff’s pearl-white Lincoln MKZ, for instance, slipped around the course with little difficulty and Comma.ai’s 2016 Acura ILX completed a fully autonomous lap — almost.The car reflects my inability to drive a racecar," founder George Hotz said after jerking the wheel to avoid spilling into the dirt. 

A race, though, may not be the ultimate goal here. "What’s the point having amateurs redo what professionals have already done?" Anderson said, pointing out that Google’s autonomous car would have no trouble completing a lap better than most of the vehicles present. "I think the point is exactly the same point that Jobs and Wozniak had when they had the Homebrew Computer Club. The Apple II wasn’t the first computer or the best computer — in fact it was probably the worst computer — you could buy. But it was the only computer that you could buy, and it took a different evolutionary path."

"The hope here is that this will go in a different direction. That we’re not just going to end up with another Google autonomous car. That we’re going to do something that Google wouldn’t dare, or want, to do."

For Anderson, that means doing something "dangerous, silly, and cheap" — something like a real-world Mario Kart. "I don’t know how to make the banana peels big enough," he added with a sigh, "that’s my big problem."

Schachter’s ambitions were more modest. "I want people to field a competitive vehicle for less than 10 grand," he said, and create an alternative to glossier series like Roborace, set to launch next year. He expressed some reservations about bringing Mario Kart to life, but remained diplomatic.

"I think we need to get Chris to the track more often," he said. "He’ll change his mind as to what this could be." 

Self Racing Car final

 Schachter has experience on the track — he races spec Miatas throughout the year — but other attendees were brand-new to it. Schachter brought in Doug Juenke of Hooked on Driving, an organization that offers driver coaching, to help with safety and organization.

On the second day of the event, I found Juenke in the parking lot, standing over the open hood of his Subaru WRX. Tall, blonde, and tan, Juenke stood out from the crowd. 

Juenke has been racing at Thunderhill for 13 years. He’d heard of autonomous cars, but had never been this close to them before. I asked him what he made of Schachter’s Race Series.

"Does the thought of a race series sound cool? No," he said, when we sat down to talk in the clubhouse. "The thing about racing is the human. Cars are pretty much very similar, but there’s a reason why Sebastian Vettel is Sebastian Vettel." But Juenke recognizes the value of the engineering challenge, and transformational promise of autonomous vehicles. He has no illusions about the future of driving.

"As this younger generation becomes less accustomed to having cars to drive, it’s naturally going to become obsolete for the masses. Do I see this" — he nodded to the parking lot outside — "make what we do go away eventually? Unfortunately, I do."

"We’re going to drive till we can’t drive, until they yank our licenses," he said, gesturing to the driver next to him. "But I think of someone who is six or seven or eight years old now... what are cars going to be like in 10 years?" 

Source:  http://www.theverge.com/2016/6/15/11944112/self-racing-cars-george-hotz-polysync-autonomoustuff-thunderhill

Categorized in Search Engine

Expanded Text Ads are coming to Google AdWords. Are you excited? But more importantly, are you ready?

 

Expanded Text Ads were one of several huge AdWords changes Google announced recently – if not the biggest. I still can’t believe that Google will soon actually increase its ad text limits by 2x!

 

So what exactly is changing? Here are 10 things advertisers need to know about Expanded Text Ads.

 

1. What are Expanded Text Ads?

 

Expanded Text Ads are 2x bigger than current text ads. The new ads are designed to maximize your presence and performance on mobile search results with a bigger headline and an extra long description. (And with a mobile-first mindset, whatever works on mobile is going to get applied to desktop too.)

 

Expanded Text ads will show across all devices – desktop and mobile – and will wrap automatically based on device size.

Google began testing Expanded Text ads in Q2 of 2016.

 

2. Why is Google making this change?

 

Google is calling this the biggest change to text ads since AdWords launched 15 years ago.

 

Several months ago, Google began thinking about what an AdWords ad would look like if they created AdWords in today’s mobile-first world, where more than half of the trillions of searches conducted on Google per year are done via a mobile device.

 

Google’s first move toward creating a unified experience across devices came in February when it killed off right side ads on desktop. Now with the constraints of desktop right-side ads gone, this change seems like a natural progression from the super-sized headlines introduced in 2011.

 

3. How much bigger are these expanded ads?

 

Expanded text ads are 2x bigger (math nerd alert: technically 47 percent bigger) from today’s AdWords text ads.

 

You now have a total of 140 characters of ad copy space to use, marking the end of the current 25-35-35 limits. No comment from Twitter as yet about their thoughts on Google adopting a 140-character limit. Here’s a little more info on the changes from the AdWords blog:

 

expanded text ads details

 

 

 

So make all those extra characters count. Create eye-catching and emotional ads that searchers can’t resist clicking on.

 

4. What do the new Expanded Text Ads look like?

 

Here’s a before and after of what the ads will look like on mobile and desktop:

 

Expanded Text Ad example

 

 

And here’s what Expanded Text Ads will look like in the AdWords interface:

 

Expanded Text Ad example

 

 

 

5. How much are headlines expanding?

 

Advertisers will have two 30-character headlines when Expanded Text Ads become available later this year.

Advertisers currently are limited to a 25-character headline.

That’s means our headlines will soon increase by 140 percent!

 

6. How much will descriptions expand?

 

Advertisers will have one 80-character description line.

Advertisers currently are limited to two 35-character description lines.

That means descriptions will increase by 14 percent.

 

7. What’s changing with display URLs?

 

AdWords will automatically extract the domain from the final URL.

Advertisers can then add up to two paths to enhance the display URL (using up to 15 characters).

 

8. Will this improve CTR?

 

Yes! More text means greater visibility. Early reports indicate that Expanded Text Ads are seeing CTR increase by as much as 20 percent.

 

At WordStream, we’ve observed CTR increase by around 12 percent by adding ad or call extensions to mobile text ads – so we expect increasing the character counts of headlines and description should result in more clicks.

 

Regardless, you can bet we’ll be closely tracking the performance of this new ad format as it becomes more widely available.

 

9. When will the new ads roll out?

 

Google hasn’t officially revealed when all advertisers will have access to Expanded Text Ads. Keep an eye out and we’ll update when we know more details.

 

10. What should you do to prepare for Expanded Text Ads?

 

Raise your Quality Scores now! Quality Score is already the most important metric in your AdWords account, but it’s about to become even more important.

 

Businesses that occupy the top spots will take up the most valuable SERP real estate – especially for commercial queries. It could make anything below position 2 or 3 on mobile devices irrelevant!

 

Additionally, you’ve got a lot of ad text optimization ahead of you. You’ll need to make sure your text ads are all rewritten to take advantage of this new format. Google is giving you 2x more space with Expanded Text Ads – so be ready to use it to your advantage!

 

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/06/google-expanded-text-ads-10-things-you-need-to-know/

Categorized in Search Engine

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