[Source: This article was published in blogs.scientificamerican.com By Daniel M. Russell and Mario Callegaro - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank]

Researchers who study how we use search engines share common mistakes, misperceptions and advice

In a cheery, sunshine-filled fourth-grade classroom in California, the teacher explained the assignment: write a short report about the history of the Belgian Congo at the end of the 19th century, when Belgium colonized this region of Africa. One of us (Russell) was there to help the students with their online research methods.

I watched in dismay as a young student slowly typed her query into a smartphone. This was not going to end well. She was trying to find out which city was the capital of the Belgian Congo during this time period. She reasonably searched [ capital Belgian Congo ] and in less than a second she discovered that the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo is Kinshasa, a port town on the Congo River. She happily copied the answer into her worksheet.

But the student did not realize that the Democratic Republic of Congo is a completely different country than the Belgian Congo, which used to occupy the same area. The capital of that former country was Boma until 1926, when it was moved to Léopoldville (which was later renamed Kinshasa). Knowing which city was the capital during which time period is complicated in the Congo, so I was not terribly surprised by the girl’s mistake.

The deep problem here is that she blindly accepted the answer offered by the search engine as correct. She did not realize that there is a deeper history here.

We Google researchers know this is what many students do—they enter the first query that pops into their heads and run with the answer. Double checking and going deeper are skills that come only with a great deal of practice—and perhaps a bunch of answers marked wrong on important exams. Students often do not have a great deal of background knowledge to flag a result as potentially incorrect, so they are especially susceptible to misguided search results like this.

In fact, a 2016 report by Stanford University education researchers showed that most students are woefully unprepared to assess content they find on the web. For instance, the scientists found that 80 percent of students at U.S. universities are not able to determine if a given web site contains  credible information. And it is not just students; many adults share these difficulties.

If she had clicked through to the linked page, the girl probably would have started reading about the history of the Belgian Congo, and found out that it has had a few hundred years of wars, corruption, changes in rulers and shifts in governance. The name of the country changed at least six times in a century, but she never realized that because she only read the answer presented on the search engine results page.

Asking a question of a search engine is something people do several billion times each day. It is the way we find the phone number of the local pharmacy, check on sports scores, read the latest scholarly papers, look for news articles, find pieces of code, and shop. And although searchers look for true answers to their questions, the search engine returns results that are attuned to the query, rather than some external sense of what is true or not. So a search for proof of wrongdoing by a political candidate can return sites that purport to have this information, whether or not the sites or the information are credible. You really do get what you search for.

In many ways, search engines make our metacognitive skills come to the foreground. It is easy to do a search that plays into your confirmation bias—your tendency to think new information supports views you already hold. So good searchers actively seek out information that may conflict with their preconceived notions. They look for secondary sources of support, doing a second or third query to gain other perspectives on their topic. They are constantly aware of what their cognitive biases are, and greet whatever responses they receive from a search engine with healthy skepticism.

For the vast majority of us, most searches are successful. Search engines are powerful tools that can be incredibly helpful, but they also require a bit of understanding to find the information you are actually seeking. Small changes in how you search can go a long way toward finding better answers.

The Limits of Search

It is not surprising or uncommon that a short query may not accurately reflect what a searcher really wants to know. What is actually remarkable is how often a simple, brief query like [ nets ] or [ giants ] will give the right results. After all, both of those words have multiple meanings, and a search engine might conclude that searchers were looking for information on tools to catch butterflies, in the first case, or larger-than-life people in the second. Yet most users who type those words are seeking basketball- and football-related sites, and the first search results for those terms provide just that. Even the difference between a query like [the who] versus [a who] is striking. The first set of results are about a classic English rock band, whereas the second query returns references to a popular Dr. Seuss book.

But search engines sometimes seem to give the illusion that you can ask anything about anything and get the right answer. Just like the student in that example, however most searchers overestimate the accuracy of search engines and their own searching skills. In fact, when Americans were asked to self-rate their searching ability by the Pew Research Center in 2012, 56 percent rated themselves as very confident in their ability to use a search engine to answer a question.

Not surprisingly, the highest confidence scores were for searchers with some college degrees (64 percent were “very confident”—by contrast, 45 percent of those who did not have a college degree describes themselves that way). Age affects this judgment as well, with 64 percent of those under 50 describing themselves as “very confident,” as opposed to only 40 percent older than 50. When talking about how successful they are in their searches, 29 percent reported that they can always find what they are looking for, and 62 percent said they are able to find an answer to their questions most of the time. In surveys, most people tell us that everything they want is online, and conversely, if they cannot find something via a quick search, then it must not exist, it might be out of date, or it might not be of much value.

These are the most recent published results, but we have seen in surveys done at Google in 2018 that these insights from Pew are still true and transcend the years. What was true in 2012 is still exactly the same now: People have great confidence in their ability to search. The only significant change is in their success rates, which have crept up to 35 percent can "always find" what they're looking for, while 73 percent say they can find what they seek "most of the time." This increase is largely due to improvements in the search engines, which improve their data coverage and algorithms every year."

What Good Searchers Do

As long as information needs are easy, simple searches work reasonably well. Most people actually do less than one search per day, and most of those searches are short and commonplace. The average query length on Google during 2016 was 2.3 words. Queries are often brief descriptions like: [ quiche recipe ] or [ calories in chocolate ] or [ parking Tulsa ].

And somewhat surprisingly, most searches have been done before. In an average day, less than 12 percent of all searches are completely novel—that is, most queries have already been entered by another searcher in the past day. By design, search engines have learned to associate short queries with the targets of those searches by tracking pages that are visited as a result of the query, making the results returned both faster and more accurate than they otherwise would have been.

A large fraction of queries are searches for another website (called navigational queries, which make up as much as 25 percent of all queries), or for a short factual piece of information (called informational queries, which are around 40 percent of all queries). However, complex search tasks often need more than a single query to find a satisfactory answer. So how can you do better searches? 

First, you can modify your query by changing a term in your search phrase, generally to make it more precise or by adding additional terms to reduce the number of off-topic results. Very experienced searchers often open multiple browser tabs or windows to pursue different avenues of research, usually investigating slightly different variations of the original query in parallel.

You can see good searchers rapidly trying different search queries in a row, rather than just being satisfied with what they get with the first search. This is especially true for searches that involve very ambiguous terms—a query like [animal food] has many possible interpretations. Good searchers modify the query to get to what they need quickly, such as [pet food] or [animal nutrition], depending on the underlying goal.

Choosing the best way to phrase your query means adding terms that:

  • are central to the topic (avoid peripheral terms that are off-topic)
  • you know the definition of (do not guess at a term if you are not certain)
  • leave common terms together in order ( [ chow pet ] is very different than [ pet chow ])
  • keep the query fairly short (you usually do not need more than two to five terms)

You can make your query more precise by limiting the scope of a search with special operators. The most powerful operators are things such as double-quote marks (as in the query [ “exponential growth occurs when” ], which finds only documents containing that phrase in that specific order. Two other commonly used search operators are site: and filetype: These let you search within only one web site (such as [site:ScientificAmerican.com ]) or for a particular filetype, such as a PDF file (example: [ filetype:pdf coral bleaching ])

Second, try to understand the range of possible search options. Recently, search engines added the capability of searching for images that are similar to given photo that you can upload. A searcher who knows this can find photos online that have features that resemble those in the original. By clicking through the similar images, a searcher can often find information about the object (or place) in the image. Searching for matches of my favorite fish photo can tell me not just what kind of fish it is, but then provide links to other fishing locations and ichthyological descriptions of this fish species.        

Overall, expert searchers use all of the resources of the search engine and their browsers to search both deeply (by making query variations) and broadly (by having multiple tabs or windows open). Effective searchers also know how to limit a search to a particular website or to a particular kind of document, find a phrase (by using quote marks to delimit the phrase), and find text on a page (by using a text-find tool).

Third, learn some cool tricks. One is the find-text-on-page skill (that is, Command-F on Mac, Control-F on PC), which is unfamiliar to around 90 percent of the English-speaking, Internet-using population in the US. In our surveys of thousands of web users, the large majority have to do a slow (and errorful) visual scan for a string of text on a web site. Knowing how to use text-finding commands speeds up your overall search time by about 12 percent (and is a skill that transfers to almost every other computer application).

Fourth, use your critical-thinking skills.  In one case study, we found that searchers looking for the number of teachers in New York state would often do a query for [number of teachers New York ], and then take the first result as their answer—never realizing that they were reading about the teacher population of New York City, not New York State. In another study we asked searchers to find the maximum weight a particular model of baby stroller could hold. How big could that baby be?

The answers we got back varied from two pounds to 250 pounds. At both ends of the spectrum, the answers make no sense (few babies in strollers weigh less than five pounds or more than 60 pounds), but inexperienced searchers just assumed that whatever numbers they found correctly answered their search questions. They did not read the context of the results with much care.  

Search engines are amazingly powerful tools that have transformed the way we think of research, but they can hurt more than help when we lack the skills to use them appropriately and evaluate what they tell us. Skilled searchers know that the ranking of results from a search engine is not a statement about objective truth, but about the best matching of the search query, term frequency, and the connectedness of web pages. Whether or not those results answer the searchers’ questions is still up for them to determine.

Categorized in Internet Search

[Source: This article was published in marketingland.com By Careerplay - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jason bourne]

In this fast-growing era, digital marketers are expected to be skilled in a variety of areas, including analytics, creative direction, sales, digital media and more. Here's how to keep your skills sharp and gain new ones

With more brands than ever relying on digital marketing as their main form of advertising, it’s no surprise that professional digital marketers are in very high demand. In fact, Reuters reports that in 2017, digital marketing spending increased by 44 percent in the United States and to $52 billion in Britain. Globally, digital marketing spend is estimated to approach $100 billion. If you’re looking to work in an industry that continues to grow and provide numerous opportunities, digital marketing may be the perfect career path for you.

What is a digital marketer?

Digital marketing uses many traditional forms of classic marketing and sales techniques, but is coupled with technology for a more modern approach. Depending on your interests and goals, you can train as a digital marketer who is well-rounded in all types of online advertising and marketing, or you can choose to focus on one specific area.

What is a digital marketer

Why should you become a digital marketer?

Even if you don’t have any experience working in digital marketing, this is an industry that offers tremendous opportunities for all skill levels with the right training. It is a fast-paced field that is constantly evolving and as such, new roles that need to be filled pop up quite often. If you’re creative, interested in data, curious about how the consumer mind works, can work well independently and as part of a team, and you’re eager to learn, consider taking the next step toward becoming a professional digital marketer.

Another great advantage of training to become a digital marketer? Although training is often necessary for those new to the field, and a huge plus for those who have some experience, obtaining a four-year degree is often unnecessary. If you’re looking to train in a field that doesn’t require a significant upfront investment, digital marketing may be just what you’re looking for.

The demand for digital marketers is high

Burning Glass Technologies reports that for every four out of 10 marketing job ads, digital marketing knowledge is required. They also report that:

  • Multi-channel marketing and mobile marketing offer some of the higher salaries.
  • Digital marketing positions take approximately 16 percent longer to fill when compared to other roles.
  • Marketing positions that call for digital marketing skills typically offer almost $7,000 more annually.

These numbers are expected to continue to go up as the demand for digital marketers grows as well.

How to become a digital marketer?

The first step to becoming a digital marketer is to enroll in a training program that offers the skills needed to succeed in this field. It can also be helpful to know if there’s a specific area of digital marketing you’d like to focus on, as there are many training programs that target specific types of digital marketing. But it’s always an option to just learn about some of the digital marketing fundamentals initially, and then decide later on if there’s a specific area you’d prefer to concentrate on. 

Enrolling in digital marketing courses

Enrolling in an online digital marketing course is typically the most economical, quickest, and most convenient way to learn about digital marketing. Some of the most knowledgeable professionals in the industry teach these courses, which also include hands-on projects and assignments, allowing students to get a real feel for working in digital marketing. Because the digital marketing field is so competitive, getting certified can get you one step ahead.

Learn from the industry’s best

Whether you’ve already completed a digital marketing course in the past, or you have experience working as a professional digital marketer, it’s important to remember that the industry is constantly changing and evolving. Even the most experienced digital marketers need to keep up with these changes and trends, and by enrolling in an online learning program, you can be sure that you’re always staying on top of these industry changes.

On-the-job training

Without training and earning your digital marketing certification, you may still have a chance at landing an entry-level digital marketing job. Although you can gain some invaluable experience while on the job, you’ll still be at a disadvantage compared to those with several years of experience and/or those who are certified. You may overlook what seems like a minor detail or misunderstand an industry term, and as a result, make a major mistake that potentially costs you your job.

Learn by following the top digital marketing blogs

From learning the basics to fine-tuning advanced skills, following some of the top industry blogs can be a great way to learn about what’s happening in the digital marketing world. There are a lot of great digital marketing blogs to follow; two notable mentions are Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal.

While these blogs can be a great resource for any skill level, they shouldn’t replace a structured online learning program if you’re serious about a career in digital marketing. They are a good supplement to any online course, but don’t provide the organization that online learning programs provide, nor do they provide certifications.

Learn the basics from free online courses

Similarly to following industry blogs, signing up for a free course can be a good way to supplement an accredited course, but it shouldn’t be a replacement. These courses are often not as structured as accredited programs, and usually won’t be able to prepare you for a certification exam. Students in these courses also don’t often have access to the same types of resources that paid programs provide, such as live lectures and hands-on assignments.

Choosing a path

When you’re ready to enroll in an online digital marketing program, we recommend beginning with the Simplilearn Digital Marketing Certified Associate (DMCA). Students learn all digital marketing fundamentals in this program, and can then choose a path to pursue upon completion. Some popular digital marketing paths include PPC specialist, SEO specialist, and social media marketing specialist. Alternatively, you can decide not to focus on one specific area and pursue a career as an all-around digital marketing specialist.

Let’s explore these different paths in a little more detail.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Specialist

Whenever you search the web for any given term, you’ll often see top results in the ad space above all of the organic results. PPC specialists set up these ads, and it’s their goal to bring in as much qualified traffic as possible with their provided budget. In order to succeed in PPC, individuals need to be analytical and organized. Prepare for a career in PPC by enrolling in Simplilearn’s Advanced Pay Per Click (PPC) Certification Training.

In this course, students will learn various components of advanced PPC, including web analytics and display advertising. As a PPC specialist, learning about display advertising is essential. This skill prepares you to work with ads, third-party agencies, remarketing campaigns, browser cookies, optimization conversation rates, landing pages, microsites, and much more.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of any digital marketing campaign, and an essential skill for a digital marketing professional. A good SEO campaign is what helps any given website perform well in search engines, and companies are often looking for experienced and trained SEO specialists to add to their teams. Sharpen your SEO skills with Simplilearn’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Training Course, which teaches advanced SEO, web analytics, content marketing, and other essential components of SEO.

Social Media Marketing Specialist

With social media becoming extremely widespread across several channels, more and more brands are taking advantage of these platforms for advertising purposes. Aside from creating paid advertisements that are tailor-made for specific audiences, social media marketers also manage company social media accounts to engage current and potential customers organically. This can include a wide range of responsibilities, from curating and posting eye-catching content, to analyzing and reporting on data.

Simplilearn offers several different programs that give students the opportunity to learn social media, from the basic fundamentals to advanced principles. The social media course is designed to teach students not only how to draw traffic to social media pages, but also how to protect a brand’s reputation in the process. Students learn how to plan and execute strategic social media marketing plans, as well as how to analyze data for improving and planning for future campaigns. 

Digital Marketing Specialist

If you like all aspects of online marketing, you don’t necessarily have to focus on one specific area for your career path. As a general digital marketing specialist, you’ll get the opportunity to dabble in a little bit of everything when it comes to digital marketing. With this well-rounded approach, you may have the opportunity to lead a marketing team once you have enough experience. Becoming a digital marketing specialist, manager, or director can be a rewarding experience, but it’s also important to stand out amongst the competition by receiving the right training and certification.

Become a sought-after digital marketer

Simplilearn’s catalog of digital marketing courses offers a wide range of programs for all skill experience levels, whether you’re just starting out or have worked as a digital marketer for some time now. Learn more about the various programs offered and enroll today.

Categorized in How to

[Source: This article was published in kmworld.com By AlexAnndra Ontra - Uploaded by the Association Member: Mercedes J. Steinman]

If it’s important, it’s in a presentation. Presentations, and PowerPoint in particular, are the de facto medium for communicating formal business ideas. Presentations are used for sales, training, fund raising, project planning, research—you name it. A lot of human capital and other resources go into creating these presentations, and because of this expenditure, more companies are turning to presentation management to leverage this content. Presentations are no longer one-off documents, used for one meeting, one proposal, and then thrown out, only to start over again the next time. They are communications assets that can be reused and repurposed for the benefit of everyone in the organization.

At most, businesses have a tangled mess of PowerPoint and other files buried somewhere on their network, shared worksites, hard drives, and emails. When someone needs to make a presentation, they start from scratch recreating slides that probably already exist somewhere, if only they can find them—a gross waste of time. Or, they spend hours hunting and pecking through all of these files trying to find that one “right” slide, and whether that slide is current, branded, or has the proper messaging is—another waste of time, never mind the potential branding and legal risk that comes with presenting inaccurate or outdated materials.

Nintex survey found that 49% of employees have trouble locating documents, such as presentations, and waste up to 2.5 hours a day looking for information. This is why more companies are implementing a presentation management strategy, where search is a critical element that radically reduces the time wasted looking for those presentation assets.

How search works within a presentation management

Presentation management puts a strategic workflow process around presentation files, such as: PowerPoint, video, images, PDFs, and any other file types you use in business. (In presentation management, all files are formatted to present, so any file can be considered a “presentation” file.) So, anyone in your organization can find the “right” slide or file and reuse it on demand. It is visual, and above all searchable.

It starts with creating a central file repository that is easily accessible and permissioned. Permissions direct the right content to the appropriate users and mitigate the risk associated with someone using an old, outdated version. This repository should be visual, with easy previewing, so the user is not forced to download a file, open it, and scroll through it to find the slide or section they want before starting over with the next file, and the next. Instead, with presentation management, they click on the file or slide, where they can see it, read it, and decide in a split second if that’s the one they need. Common sense dictates that if you can’t see a file, you won’t use it, so visualization is critical.

The value of visual search

Visual search capabilities let users type in keywords or phrases that generate thumbnails of files and slides, with the keywords highlighted within the document. This not only gives them access to that one great slide or file out of thousands, but also lets see them keyword in the context of the document, which makes it easier and faster to decide if it’s the right one for your meeting.

With presentation management, search should be organic. Files are indexed upon upload, so users not only search according to file name and meta tag, but all of the content within the file, such as titles, text, and speaker notes. With the proper presentation management solution, everything is searchable.

The result is that all files become active and productive. When each member of your team has an easy way to find that one correct slide, or that file out of tens of thousands, then they can reuse it in their presentations. Better search makes for better, more informative presentations.

Search also improves business insights, which lead to better content. Data accumulated through search, such as most searched topics, who is searching, when are they searching (before or during a meeting) etc., will give marketing teams insight as to what content and corresponding products are popular in the field. It is market feedback in its most direct and rudimentary form.

Data helps you prioritize

Internal data can also be collected through presentation management. It can log who is using which slide or file, where, when, and over what time period. Equally as informative, the same data will indicate which slides and files are not being used. That information will guide the content marketer’s decision as to what new content to create, to update and even expire. After all, why waste time creating content that no one uses? For example, let’s say a CEO gives a presentation rolling out a line of new products. The sales team uses that presentation over the next six months to sell these products. The analytics shows that there are two particular slides that have the most hits, the most engagement, and even the most search queries. It also shows that there is one product that gets zero hits. Now the marketing and product development teams know which two products are resonating in the field, and therefore where to allocate their resources.

External sources of data are also critical for industries that rely on third-party sources, such as banking and media. Media companies use services such as Nielsen ratings to confirm their audience viewer numbers, which is what they are ultimately selling. Synchronizing this data in real time, directly into formatted presentation slides can offer an ad sales rep an advantage when talking with clients. The rep comes across as well-informed, direct, and ready to discuss and plan a better strategy for the client to reach the intended audience. It builds credibility and trust between seller and buyer. It might sound ironic but in this case, data is actually fostering a better human relationship.

A digital-first generation

Presentation management is particularly appealing to millennials, who grew up with data and search on their mobile phones and are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. They will bring their personal habits into their job. They expect to be able to find a specific piece of content, a file, a slide, a video, with one search. A network server with a bunch of folders, sub-folders, and files hidden within? That won’t work for them. They expect to see their business content, visualized in preview. And they expect to use it, at that moment, just as they do on YouTube. Furthermore, they rely on their mobile phones to communicate. They will pick up their phone—not to call you—but to show you pictures and videos as they are talking with you. And they will do the same in a business setting—pick up their phone, or iPad or laptop and show their client data the product pictures or promotional video. They will resist using a rigid, linear, and PowerPoint slide show, in favor of a more free flowing interactive discussion. A millennial’s presentation follows the conversation.

Your company’s enterprise presentation management strategy is bolstered through search and data. Better and more readily accessible content empowers employees to be more productive in their tasks. With a comprehensive presentation management solution, everyone knows how to get the content they need to do their job, and this translates to client meetings, letting your employees connect with customers in a more meaningful, effective way. Employees can follow the conversation and directly address the customers’ concerns. No one is limited to a canned, inflexible presentation. Furthermore, marketing and HQ get real-time data on how their products and services are resonating in the field, so they can also be agile and adjust as needed. Search and data tools embedded in your presentation management strategy will give insights and guidance so your company can better serve you clients.

Categorized in Internet Search

[Source: This article was published in techdirt.com By Julia Angwin, ProPublica - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dana W. Jimenez]

The East German secret police, known as the Stasi, were an infamously intrusive secret police force. They amassed dossiers on about one quarter of the population of the country during the Communist regime.

But their spycraft — while incredibly invasive — was also technologically primitive by today's standards. While researching my book Dragnet Nation, I obtained the above hand drawn social network graph and other files from the Stasi Archive in Berlin, where German citizens can see files kept about them and media can access some files, with the names of the people who were monitored removed.

The graphic shows forty-six connections, linking a target to various people (an "aunt," "Operational Case Jentzsch," presumably Bernd Jentzsch, an East German poet who defected to the West in 1976), places ("church"), and meetings ("by post, by phone, meeting in Hungary").

Gary Bruce, an associate professor of history at the University of Waterloo and the author of "The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi," helped me decode the graphic and other files. I was surprised at how crude the surveillance was. "Their main surveillance technology was mail, telephone, and informants," Bruce said.

Another file revealed a low-level surveillance operation called an IM-vorgang aimed at recruiting an unnamed target to become an informant. (The names of the targets were redacted; the names of the Stasi agents and informants were not.) In this case, the Stasi watched a rather boring high school student who lived with his mother and sister in a run-of-the-mill apartment. The Stasi obtained a report on him from the principal of his school and from a club where he was a member. But they didn't have much on him — I've seen Facebook profiles with far more information.

A third file documented a surveillance operation known as an OPK, for Operative Personenkontrolle, of a man who was writing oppositional poetry. The Stasi deployed three informants against him but did not steam open his mail or listen to his phone calls. The regime collapsed before the Stasi could do anything further.

I also obtained a file that contained an "observation report," in which Stasi agents recorded the movements of a forty-year-old man for two days — September 28 and 29, 1979. They watched him as he dropped off his laundry, loaded up his car with rolls of wallpaper, and drove a child in a car "obeying the speed limit," stopping for gas and delivering the wallpaper to an apartment building. The Stasi continued to follow the car as a woman drove the child back to Berlin.

The Stasi agent appears to have started following the target at 4:15 p.m. on a Friday evening. At 9:38 p.m., the target went into his apartment and turned out the lights. The agent stayed all night and handed over surveillance to another agent at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning. That agent appears to have followed the target until 10:00 p.m. From today's perspective, this seems like a lot of work for very little information.

And yet, the Stasi files are an important reminder of what a repressive regime can do with so little information.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in ibtimes.co.uk By Anthony Cuthbertson - Uploaded by the Association Member: Robert Hensonw]

A search engine more powerful than Google has been developed by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), capable of finding results within dark web networks such as Tor.

The Memex project was ostensibly developed for uncovering sex-trafficking rings, however the platform can be used by law enforcement agencies to uncover all kinds of illegal activity taking place on the dark web, leading to concerns surrounding internet privacy.

Thousands of sites that feature on dark web browsers like Tor and I2P can be scraped and indexed by Memex, as well as the millions of web pages ignored by popular search engines like Google and Bing on the so-called Deep Web.

The difference between the dark web and the deep web

The dark web is a section of the internet that requires specialist software tools to access, such as the Tor browser. Originally designed to protect privacy, it is often associated with illicit activities.

The deep web is a section of the open internet that is not indexed by search engines like Google - typically internal databases and forums within websites. It comprises around 95% of the internet.

Websites operating on the dark web, such as the former Silk Road black marketplace, purport to offer anonymity to their users through a form of encryption known as Onion Routing.

While users' identities and IP addresses will still not be revealed through Memex results, the use of an automated process to analyse content could uncover patterns and relationships that could potentially be used by law enforcement agencies to track and trace dark web users.

"We're envisioning a new paradigm for search that would tailor content, search results, and interface tools to individual users and specific subject areas, and not the other way round," said DARPA program manager Chris White.

"By inventing better methods for interacting with and sharing information, we want to improve search for everybody and individualise access to information. Ease of use for non-programmers is essential."

Memex achieves this by addressing the one-size-fits-all approach taken by mainstream search engines, which list results based on consumer advertising and ranking.

 us internet surveillance DARPA TOR Memex dark web

 Memex raises further concerns about internet surveillance US Web Home

'The most intense surveillance state the world has literally ever seen'

The search engine is initially being used by the US Department of Defence to fight human trafficking and DARPA has stated on its website that the project's objectives do not involve deanonymising the dark web.

The statement reads: "The program is specifically not interested in proposals for the following: attributing anonymous services, deanonymising or attributing identity to servers or IP addresses, or accessing information not intended to be publicly available."

Despite this, White has revealed that Memex has been used to improve estimates on the number of services there are operating on the dark web.

"The best estimates there are, at any given time, between 30,000 and 40,000 hidden service Onion sites that have content on them that one could index," White told 60 Minutes earlier this month.

Internet freedom advocates have raised concerns based on the fact that DARPA has revealed very few details about how Memex actually works, which partners are involved and what projects beyond combating human trafficking are underway.

"What does it tell about a person, a group of people, or a program, when they are secretive and operate in the shadows?" author Cassius Methyl said in a post to Anti Media. "Why would a body of people doing benevolent work have to do that?

"I think keeping up with projects underway by DARPA is of critical importance. This is where the most outrageous and powerful weapons of war are being developed.

"These technologies carry the potential for the most intense surveillance/ police state that the world has literally ever seen."

Categorized in Deep Web

[Source: This article was Published in theverge.com BY James Vincent - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jennifer Levin] 

A ‘tsunami’ of cheap AI content could cause problems for search engines

Over the past year, AI systems have made huge strides in their ability to generate convincing text, churning out everything from song lyrics to short stories. Experts have warned that these tools could be used to spread political disinformation, but there’s another target that’s equally plausible and potentially more lucrative: gaming Google.

Instead of being used to create fake news, AI could churn out infinite blogs, websites, and marketing spam. The content would be cheap to produce and stuffed full of relevant keywords. But like most AI-generated text, it would only have surface meaning, with little correspondence to the real world. It would be the information equivalent of empty calories, but still potentially difficult for a search engine to distinguish from the real thing.

Just take a look at this blog post answering the question: “What Photo Filters are Best for Instagram Marketing?” At first glance, it seems legitimate, with a bland introduction followed by quotes from various marketing types. But read a little more closely and you realize it references magazines, people, and — crucially — Instagram filters that don’t exist:

You might not think that a mumford brush would be a good filter for an Insta story. Not so, said Amy Freeborn, the director of communications at National Recording Technician magazine. Freeborn’s picks include Finder (a blue stripe that makes her account look like an older block of pixels), Plus and Cartwheel (which she says makes your picture look like a topographical map of a town.

The rest of the site is full of similar posts, covering topics like “How to Write Clickbait Headlines” and “Why is Content Strategy Important?” But every post is AI-generated, right down to the authors’ profile pictures. It’s all the creation of content marketing agency Fractl, who says it’s a demonstration of the “massive implications” AI text generation has for the business of search engine optimization, or SEO.

“Because [AI systems] enable content creation at essentially unlimited scale, and content that humans and search engines alike will have difficulty discerning [...] we feel it is an incredibly important topic with far too little discussion currently,” Fractl partner Kristin Tynski tells The Verge.

To write the blog posts, Fractl used an open source tool named Grover, made by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Tynski says the company is not using AI to generate posts for clients, but that this doesn’t mean others won’t. “I think we will see what we have always seen,” she says. “Blackhats will use subversive tactics to gain a competitive advantage.”

The history of SEO certainly supports this prediction. It’s always been a cat and mouse game, with unscrupulous players trying whatever methods they can to attract as many eyeballs as possible while gatekeepers like Google sort the wheat from the chaff.

As Tynski explains in a blog post of her own, past examples of this dynamic include the “article spinning” trend, which started 10 to 15 years ago. Article spinners use automated tools to rewrite existing content; finding and replacing words so that the reconstituted matter looked original. Google and other search engines responded with new filters and metrics to weed out these mad-lib blogs, but it was hardly an overnight fix.

AI text generation will make the article spinning “look like child’s play,” writes Tynski, allowing for “a massive tsunami of computer-generated content across every niche imaginable.”

Mike Blumenthal, an SEO consultant, and expert says these tools will certainly attract spammers, especially considering their ability to generate text on a massive scale. “The problem that AI-written content presents, at least for web search, is that it can potentially drive the cost of this content production way down,” Blumenthal tells The Verge.

And if the spammers’ aim is simply to generate traffic, then fake news articles could be perfect for this, too. Although we often worry about the political motivations of fake news merchants, most interviews with the people who create and share this context claim they do it for the ad revenue. That doesn’t stop it being politically damaging.

The key question, then, is: can we reliably detect AI-generated text? Rowan Zellers of the Allen Institute for AI says the answer is a firm “yes,” at least for now. Zellers and his colleagues were responsible for creating Grover, the tool Fractl used for its fake blog posts, and were able to also engineer a system that can spot Grover-generated text with 92 percent accuracy.

“We’re a pretty long way away from AI being able to generate whole news articles that are undetectable,” Zellers tells The Verge. “So right now, in my mind, is the perfect opportunity for researchers to study this problem, because it’s not totally dangerous.”

Spotting fake AI text isn’t too hard, says Zellers, because it has a number of linguistic and grammatical tells. He gives the example of AI’s tendency to re-use certain phrases and nouns. “They repeat things ... because it’s safer to do that rather than inventing a new entity,” says Zellers. It’s like a child learning to speak; trotting out the same words and phrases over and over, without considering the diminishing returns.

However, as we’ve seen with visual deep fakes, just because we can build technology that spots this content, that doesn’t mean it’s not a danger. Integrating detectors into the infrastructure of the internet is a huge task, and the scale of the online world means that even detectors with high accuracy levels will make a sizable number of mistakes.

Google did not respond to queries on this topic, including the question of whether or not it’s working on systems that can spot AI-generated text. (It’s a good bet that it is, though, considering Google engineers are at the cutting-edge of this field.) Instead, the company sent a boilerplate reply saying that it’s been fighting spam for decades, and always keeps up with the latest tactics.

SEO expert Blumenthal agrees, and says Google has long proved it can react to “a changing technical landscape.” But, he also says a shift in how we find information online might also make AI spam less of a problem.

More and more web searches are made via proxies like Siri and Alexa, says Blumenthal, meaning gatekeepers like Google only have to generate “one (or two or three) great answers” rather than dozens of relevant links. Of course, this emphasis on the “one true answer” has its own problems, but it certainly minimizes the risk from high-volume spam.

The end-game of all this could be even more interesting though. AI-text generation is advancing in quality extremely quickly, and experts in the field think it could lead to some incredible breakthroughs. After all, if we can create a program that can read and generate text with human-level accuracy, it could gorge itself on the internet and become the ultimate AI assistant.

“It may be the case that in the next few years this tech gets so amazingly good, that AI-generated content actually provides near-human or even human-level value,” says Tynski. In which case, she says, referencing an Xkcd comic, it would be “problem solved.” Because if you’ve created an AI that can generate factually-correct text that’s indistinguishable from content written by humans, why bother with the humans at all?

Categorized in Search Engine

 [Source: This article was Published in seroundtable.com By Barry Schwartz - Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff]

Google is now sending out newish, not 100% new, alerts for changes in your top queries for your site. This is an email from Google Search Console that will show you either large increases or decreases in your ranking positions according to Google Search Console data.

The emails read with the subject line "change in top queries for your site." Then it says "Search Console has identified a recent change in the top queries leading to your site from Google Search. We thought that you might be interested to know these changes. Here is how some of your top queries performed in the week of." It then lists out the example queries and how it changed.

Here is a screenshot from Eli Schwartz on Twitter:

click for full size

This is not 100% new, Google sent out alerts via Search Console for changes in clicks and impressions. This is a variation of that.

Here are more screenshots of this:

Dawn Anderson@dawnieando

           Is this new @rustybrick ?

View image on Twitter
                 SEO Alive@seo_alive

          Google Search Console ? podría estar probando el envío de informes sobre cambios en el rendimiento de las keywords más importantes.  

          En breve, publicaremos un artículo en el blog: https://seoalive.com/blog/ 

          cc. @rustybrick @googlewmc

View image on Twitter
Eli Schwartz
@5le

Google Search Console now has push emails about query performance. Is this new? cc: @rustybrick

View image on Twitter
 
Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was Published in hannity.com By Hannity Staff - Uploaded by the Association Member: Logan Hochstetler]

Google and other American tech companies were thrust into the national spotlight in recent weeks, with critics claiming the platforms are intentionally censoring conservative voices, “shadow-banning” leading personalities, and impacting American elections in an unprecedented way.

In another explosive exposé, Project Veritas Founder James O’Keefe revealed senior Google officials vowing to prevent the “Trump Situation” from occurring again during the 2020 elections.

The controversy dates back much further. In the fall of 2018, The SEO Tribunal published an article detailing 63 “fascinating Google search statistics.”

The article shows the planet’s largest search engine handles more than 63,000 requests per second, owns more than 90% of the global market share, and generated $95 billion in ad sales during 2017.

1. Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day.

(Source: SearchEngineLand)

That’s the average figure of how many people use Google a day, which  translates into at least 2 trillion searches per year, 3.8 million searches per minute, 228 million searches per hour, and 5.6 billion searches per day. Pretty impressive, right?

2. 15% of all searches have never been searched before on Google.

(Source: SearchEngineLand)

Out of  trillions of searches every year, 15% of these queries have never been seen by Google before. Such queries mostly relate to day-to-day activities, news, and trends, as confirmed per Google search stats.

3. Google takes over 200 factors into account before delivering you the best results to any query in a fraction of a second.

(Source: Backlinko)

Of course, some of them are rather controversial, and others may vary significantly, but there are also those that are proven and important, such as content and backlinks.

4. Google’s ad revenue amounted to almost $95.4 billion in 2017.

(Source: Statista)

According to recent Google stats, that is 25% up from 2016. The search giant saw nearly 22% ad revenue growth in the fourth quarter only.

5. Google owns about 200 companies.

(Source: Investopedia)

That is, on average, as if they’ve been acquiring more than one company per week since 2010. Among those there are companies involved in mapping, telecommunications, robotics, video broadcasting, and advertising.

6. Google’s signature email product has a 27% share of the global email client market.

(Source: Litmus)

This is up by 7% since 2016.

7. Upon going public, Google figures show the company was valued at $27 billion.

(Source: Entrepreneur)

More specifically, the company sold over 19 million shares of stock for $85 per share. In other words, it was valued as much as General Motors.

8. The net US digital display ad revenue for Google was $5.24 billion in 2017.

(Source: Emarketer)

Google statistics show that this number is significantly lower than Facebook, which made $16.33 billion, but much higher than Snapchat, which brought in $770 million from digital display ads.

9. Google has a market value of $739 billion.

(Source: Statista)

As of May 2018, the search market leader has a market value of $739 billion, coming behind Apple, which has a market value of $924 billion, Amazon, which has a market value of $783 billion, and Microsoft, which has a market value of  $753.

10. Google’s owner, Alphabet, reported an 84% rise in profits for the last quarter.

(Source: The Guardian)

The rising global privacy concerns didn’t affect Google’s profits. According to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, the quarterly profit of $9.4 billion exceeded estimates of $6.56 billion. Additionally, the price for clicks and views of ads sold by Google rose in its favor mostly due to advertisers who pursued ad slots on its search engine, YouTube video service, and partner apps and websites.

Read the full list at The SEO Tribunal.

Categorized in Search Engine

 [Source: This article was Published in zdnet.com By Catalin Cimpanu - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen]

Extension developer says he sold the extension weeks before; not responsible for the shady behavior.

Google has removed a Chrome extension from the official Web Store yesterday for secretly hijacking search engine queries and redirecting users to ad-infested search results.

The extension's name was "YouTube Queue," and at the time it was removed from the Web Store, it had been installed by nearly 7,000 users.

The extension allowed users to queue multiple YouTube videos in the order they wanted for later viewing.

EXTENSION TURNED INTO ADWARE IN EARLY JUNE

But under the hood, it also intercepted search engine queries, redirected the query through the Croowila URL, and then redirected users to a custom search engine named Information Vine, which listed the same Google search results but heavily infused with ads and affiliate links.

Users started noticing the extension's shady behavior almost two weeks ago, when first reports surfaced on Reddit, followed by two more, a few days later [12].

The extension was removed from the Web Store yesterday after Microsoft Edge engineer (and former Google Chrome developer) Eric Lawrence pointed out the extension's search engine hijacking capabilities on Twitter.

eric lawrence

Lawrence said the extension's shady code was only found in the version listed on the Chrome Web Store, but not in the extension's GitHub repository.

In an interview with The Register, the extension's developer claimed he had no involvement and that he previously sold the extension to an entity going by Softools, the name of a well-known web application platform.

In a following inquiry from The Register, Softools denied having any involvement with the extension's development, let alone the malicious code.

The practice of a malicious entity offering to buy a Chrome extension and then adding malicious code to the source is not a new one.

Such incidents have been first seen as early as 2014, and as recently as 2017, when an unknown party bought three legitimate extensions (Particle for YouTube, Typewriter Sounds, and Twitch Mini Player) and repurposed them to inject ads on popular sites.

In a 2017 tweet, Konrad Dzwinel, a DuckDuckGo software engineer and the author of the SnappySnippet, Redmine Issues Checker, DOMListener, and CSS-Diff Chrome extensions, said he usually receives inquiries for selling his extensions every week.

konrad

In a February 2019 blog post, antivirus maker Kaspersky warned users to "do a bit of research to ensure the extension hasn't been hijacked or sold" before installing it in their browser.

Developers quietly selling their extensions without notifying users, along with developers falling for spear-phishing campaigns aimed at their Chrome Web Store accounts, are currently the two main methods through which malware gangs take over legitimate Chrome extensions to plant malicious code in users' browsers.

COMING AROUND TO THE AD BLOCKER DEBATE

Furthermore, Lawrence points out that the case of the YouTube Queue extension going rogue is the perfect example showing malicious threat actors abusing the Web Request API to do bad things.

This is the same API that most ad blockers are using, and the one that Google is trying to replace with a more stunted one named the Declarative Net Request API.

eric

This change is what triggered the recent public discussions about "Google killing ad blockers."

However, Google said last week that 42% of all the malicious extensions the company detected on its Chrome Web Store since January 2018, were abusing the Web Request API in one way or another -- and the YouTube Queue extension is an example of that.

In a separate Twitter thread, Chrome security engineer Justin Schuh again pointed out that Google's main intent in replacing the old Web Request API was privacy and security-driven, and not anything else like performance or ad blockers, something the company also officially stated in a blog post last week.

justin

justin schuh

 

Categorized in Internet Privacy

 [Source: This article was Published in searchenginejournal.com By Barry Schwartz - Uploaded by the Association Member: Martin Grossner]

Google says the June 3 update is not a major one, but keep an eye out for how your results will be impacted.

Google has just announced that tomorrow it will be releasing a new broad core search algorithm update. These core updates impact how search results are ranked and listed in the Google search results.

Here is Google’s tweet:

searchliaison

Previous updates. Google has done previous core updates. In fact, it does one every couple months or so. The last core update was released in March 2019. You can see our coverage of the previous updates over here.

Why pre-announce this one? Google said the community has been asking Google to be more proactive when it comes to these changes. Danny Sullivan, Google search liason, said there is nothing specifically “big” about this update compared to previous updates. Google is being proactive about notifying site owners and SEOs, Sullivan said, so people aren’t left “scratching their heads after-the-fact.”

casey markee

When is it going live? Monday, June 3, Google will make this new core update live. The exact timing is not known yet, but Google will also tweet tomorrow when it does go live.

eric mitz

Google’s previous advice. Google has previously shared this advice around broad core algorithm updates:

“Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year.

As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.

There’s no ‘fix’ for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

 

Categorized in Search Engine

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