Thursday, October 11, 2012

Street Ghosts Artist Paolo Cirio Speaks Up About Going Against Google (PHOTOS)

Specifically, Cirio's beef is with Google Street View, the web giant's mammoth project providing 360-degree street-level viewings of the world's cities. He sees a conspiracy in it, or at the very least, a win of profit motive over principle.
"It's interesting to me how a company can takes pictures of the all world's streets and sell them back to people, assembling basically an huge repository of the world and monopolizing it. We all know that knowledge means power," Cirio says of Street View, in emails to the Huffington Post (Google Street View is free to use, but that hasn't stopped Cirio's crusade).
To draw attention to Street View's problems, Cirio's turning what he considers the most problematic aspect of the project, the permission-less photographing of people, into art. To do this, he's taping pasteboard images of people who appear on Google Street View on walls in Berlin, London, New York, and more cities, if he can help it. He says fellow artists and viewers have already contacted him and asked if they can put up images inspired by Cirio's Street Ghosts project in Hong Kong and Sydney.
Wrote Cirio to the Huffington Post, "I'm going to ship posters ready to affix on walls to everyone who asks me, in order to spread them everywhere."
A former street artist turned digital, this is Cirio's first piece that combines the two contexts -- so it's no coincidence that many of his photos show up next to old, elaborate lines of graffiti (Cirio says he looks for walls where the posters "can stay as long as possible"). We at Huffington Post exchanged emails with Cirio, who since 2002 has been traveling the world redistributing books found on Amazon and promoting a project that encourages peer-to-peer money-sharing using mock-VISA cards.

Bing - Webmaster Center blog

SEO has a future - just be ready to learn

We were at SMX East today, speaking on a panel with some really smart minds on the future of SEO.  In that discussion, many ideas where brought forward.  Let's take a look at a few of them here.

Learning new things is nothing, er…new, to SEOs.  It’s a fact of life for any SEO.  But have you started to dig into the areas that are going to matter?  Have you started working on things today, to set yourself up for success in the future?
Responsive design
With the advent of tablets and smart devices, it’s critical you understand how your site appears across those experiences.  It’s also important to set up your company to succeed long-term.  Responsive design can help your site appear as expected across devices, which means a cohesive user experience.  This can make or break how users think of your site and how they interact with your content.  That can further impact how they share you socially and whether they recommend you to others.
Today, many sites sense if the visitor is on a mobile device and pivot to the m. version of the site.  Trouble is, many of those experiences sacrifice showing some content for a sleeker design.  This can kill your credibility with visitors.
On the technical side, it can lead to duplicate URL issues over time, so you want to make sure you account for this when it comes time to redesign your site.  We’ve talked about moving to responsive design before.
This represents a chance to inform crawlers about your content in a structured manner.  It’s great for calling out specific things (the list is broad) to ensure that we, the engines, understand what the object is and what it’s related to.
Marking up your content not only helps us understand the content better, but it also helps you in the SERPs.  As rich features become more commonplace in the search results, it’s this marked up content that will be included.  Recipes are a great example of this.  By including items like ratings on a recipe, or fat and calorie counts, the result is a much richer experience for searchers, and depending on what they want (a lot fat recipe), the results are much more relevant.
This does take work to implement, so start planning now to integrate this in your next redesign.  A good starting point is, but the reality is any language is acceptable and we can work with all of them.  No need to retrofit if you’ve already started down this path.
User Experience & Social
If you haven’t invested in usability testing, it’s worth it.  Usability testing can be eye opening.  It can help you see your site, content, navigational structure, etc. in an entirely new light.  At the very least it’ll get you out of your head and into the heads of the people who interact with your site every day: your visitors and customers.  It’s almost guaranteed that as you watch people go through the testing on your site, you’ll be surprised by how they interact with the site.
Simple things like words used in your navigation labeling can have a big impact in perception and click actions on your site.  Colors, sizes of buttons, etc. can all have an impact.  And this impact extends from how they interact with the site through how they think about the site.  That perception can shape a visitor’s actions socially, which can impact search for you.
There’s a lot to be considered as we move from the present into the future.  SEO as we used to know it will continue to encompass new areas of focus.  If you think there are other items to add to this list, post ‘em up below!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Google’s August & September Updates

Google’s August & September Updates: Panda, Knowledge Graph, Page Quality & SafeSearch

Google has announced details on the search algorithm and quality changes made over the past two months – August and September. In total, Google lists 65 changes over the past two months.
The previous announcement covered two months as well, and was for June and July.
This time the key changes include Panda updates, improved knowledge graph, page quality and ranking changes, snippet changes, freshness updates and SafeSearch changes. Here is the list of some of the changes categorized by topic:

Web Ranking & Indexing

  • LTS. [project “Other Ranking Components”] We improved our web ranking to determine what pages are relevant for queries containing locations.
  • #82279. [project “Other Ranking Components”] We changed to fewer results for some queries to show the most relevant results as quickly as possible.
  • #83709. [project “Other Ranking Components”] This change was a minor bug fix related to the way links are used in ranking.
  • #82546. [project “Indexing”] We made back-end improvements to video indexing to improve the efficiency of our systems.
  • #84010. [project “Page Quality”] We refreshed data for the “Panda” high-quality sites algorithm.
  • #83777. [project “Synonyms”] This change made improvements to rely on fewer “low-confidence” synonyms when the user’s original query has good results.
  • #84586. [project “Other Ranking Components”] This change improved how we rank documents for queries with location terms.

Page Quality & Scoring

  • #82862. [project “Page Quality”] This launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
  • #83135. [project “Query Understanding”] This change updated term-proximity scoring.
  • Imadex. [project “Freshness”] This change updated handling of stale content and applies a more granular function based on document age.
  • #83689. [project “Page Quality”] This launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
  • #84394. [project “Page Quality”] This launch helped you find more high-quality content from trusted sources.
  • #83761. [project “Freshness”] This change helped you find the latest content from a given site when two or more documents from the same domain are relevant for a given search query.

Sitelinks & Snippets & UI

  • #83105. [project “Snippets”] We refreshed data used to generate sitelinks.
  • #83442. [project “Snippets”] This change improved a signal we use to determine how relevant a possible result title actually is for the page.
  • #83443. [project “Knowledge Graph”] We added a lists and collections component to the Knowledge Graph.
  • #83012. [project “Knowledge Graph] The Knowledge Graph displays factual information and refinements related to many types of searches. This launch extended the Knowledge Graph to English-speaking locales beyond the U.S.
  • #83304. [project “Knowledge Graph”] This change updated signals that determine when to show summaries of topics in the right-hand panel.
  • Knowledge Graph Carousel. [project “Knowledge Graph”] This change expanded the Knowledge Graph carousel feature globally in English.
  • #82407. [project “Other Search Features”] For pages that we do not crawl because of robots.txt, we are usually unable to generate a snippet for users to preview what’s on the page. This change added a replacement snippet that explains that there’s no description available because of robots.txt.
  • #83670. [project “Snippets”] We made improvements to surface fewer generic phrases like “comments on” and “logo” in search result titles.
  • #84652. [project “Snippets”] We currently generate titles for PDFs (and other non-html docs) when converting the documents to HTML. These auto-generated titles are usually good, but this change made them better by looking at other signals.
  • #84211. [project “Snippets”] This launch led to better snippet titles.

Image Search

  • Maru. [project “SafeSearch”] We updated SafeSearch to improve the handling of adult video content in videos mode for queries that are not looking for adult content.
  • Palace. [project “SafeSearch”] This change decreased the amount of adult content that will show up in Image Search mode when SafeSearch is set to strict.
  • #82872. [project “SafeSearch”] In “strict” SafeSearch mode we remove results if they are not very relevant. This change previously launched in English, and this change expanded it internationally.
  • Sea. [project “SafeSearch”] This change helped prevent adult content from appearing when SafeSearch is in “strict” mode.
  • Cobra. [project “SafeSearch”] We updated SafeSearch algorithms to better detect adult content.
  • #84460. [project “Snippets”] This change helped to better identify important phrases on a given webpage.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


It’s been almost a month since Bing launched its Bing It On campaign — a sort of taste-test challenge comparing Bing’s and Google’s organic search results.
And now, after an independent survey of about 4,700 people who took the challenge, Bing is touting how it’s changing the attitudes of many testers:
We asked for people’s impressions of Bing before taking the Challenge and then after they completed it. What we found was 64% of people were surprised by the quality of Bing’s web search results. Over half of the people surveyed indicated their impression of Bing improved after seeing Bing’s web search results next to Google’s. Additionally, of people who identified Google as their primary search engine, 33% said they would use Bing more often after taking the Challenge and 17% who found Bing more favorable after taking the side-by-side comparison said it revealed flaws in Google’s results.