Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Life as a King: Latent Search

Artificial intelligence has been featured in SCI-FI movies and books for years and years now. The idea that we humans can communicate with a computer or device as if it were a human being has fascinated us for decades. With good reason.

Artificial intelligence would bring a whole new way to how we live life. We would be able to have full conversations with out cell phones, ask them about the latest trends, good food, and even fun facts.
Recently, search giants like Google have been trying to utilize this form of artificial intelligence so users will be able to “have a conversation” with Google while attempting to search for something. This is a part of Googles push for Latent Search.

Latent search gives users more freedom with their search terms. With latent search, search engines will be focusing less on the keyword phrases being said, and more on what is being asked of them.

Let’s say you’re sitting in your house and you realize you really want a hamburger, you pick up your phone and voice or type search “Burgers (your location)” and then go through and read reviews about the burger joints nearby until you find one that has good reviews and a good menu and go to that one.

With latent search, if you are craving a burger you can just type into or talk to your search saying “Best burger restaurant near me”. And the data that will be presented to you will be burger places near your location that have positive reviews.

Latent search is expected to change the way that the search market will run. The purpose of it is to bring users what they want and cater searches to their unique needs, instead of just the keywords that are typed in.

What do you think about latent search?

Do you think it could take out the need for keywords all together?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Photo Editing Features from Google+ (Only on Chrome)


Google+ has recently added semi-advanced photo editing to its list of features. Acting on last year’s acquisition of Nik Software, famous for their Snapseed photo-editing app, G+ now offers a bevy of interesting filters and editing tools through their Chrome browser (as of right now, this feature only works through Chrome, but other browsers should have this availability soon). This marks another step that G+ has taken to gain relevance in the social media realm.

Many of the features of this new editing program bear quite a resemblance to Instagram and other photo-based apps/sites such as Flickr or Viewbug, and while I don’t see this feature overtaking Instagram anytime soon, it is at least a step in the right direction.

This marks another step that G+ has taken to gain relevance in the social media realm. Many of the features of this new editing program bear quite a resemblance to Instagram and other photo-based apps/sites such as Flickr or Viewbug, and while I don’t see this feature overtaking Instagram anytime soon, it is at least a step in the right direction.

Playing around with the photo editor is fun and intuitive, and the results can be stunning. I especially like the ring blur option (similar to Instagram) where you can create faux tilt-shift images with the touch of a button. The color correction is quick and efficient, and many of the natural filter settings are vibrant.

Google+ seems to be trying any tactic they possibly can to become a forerunner of the social market, but their site still feels a little ghost townish and under-occupied. Companies and businesses that understand the important SEO implications that G+ carries with it are certainly working G+ into their online marketing plans, but the average person who doesn’t need a boost in search rankings or online traffic would find very little value here.
G+ simply is not populated or groundbreaking enough to attract the types of numbers that sights like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others see. However, Google has certainly not ruled out G+, and they are pouring their excessive funds into making it a leader.

As search personalization and conversational search features start to grow in popularity, G+’s population should grow accordingly. This is because Google will only use personal information from Gmail and G+ to answer personalized queries, but until then, it will be a long way to the top for G+.
At least this new photo-editing software will give us something to do as we wait for the G+ world to further populate. Happy shooting!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

1984 in 2014: A Question of Search Ethics

Fringe Digital Marketing Agency - The Future of Search
Picture a world where everyone walks around wearing tech glasses that allow them to search the Internet and access information simply by thinking or speaking it. More often than not, these glasses will assess their surroundings and offer suggestions to the wearer about things they may be interested in.

On top of this, as you walk past storefronts, trash bins and bus stop benches, there are video advertisements that instantly read information from your cellphone and tech glasses, and then assimilate this information to provide highly-specific ads catered just to you. You walk by the bookstore, and new releases from your favorite author flash across the screen; you pass the local Redbox and you are immediately shown a video preview of the latest film featuring your favorite actor/actress.

As you stare at these personal advertisements, the tech glasses you have on read your eye movement and facial expressions, all the while assessing your emotional state. The makers of these glasses then take this information and sell it back to the advertisers to give them an almost instant analysis of how effective their marketing plan is. They show the advertisers exactly where you spent the most time looking on their ad, and exactly how their advertisement made you feel emotionally. They can then track your spending habits for the next few weeks to let the advertisers know exactly how successful they were in capturing your business.

No, I am not describing some Orwellian novel; this is the future that Google and other tech-companies are working to create. Google already has the patents to create everything I listed here (with the exception of the real-time targeted advertising; that was created by Qualcomm Industries), and these tech glasses (or Google Glass as they are now referred to) are already for sale to exclusive clients and will be available to the general public by 2014.

All of these advancements are part of Google, Qualcomm, and other tech companies’ plan to bring the world of instant-access information directly to their clients with the fewest possible barriers. And, if Google is ever able to roll out their pay-per-gaze/emotion-recognition software for use with Google Glass, then they will have created a technological empire unlike any we have ever seen.

Though these plans do seem vaguely Big Brotherish in scope, I think at least for the immediate future, these advancements will be a benefit for society if they are successfully implemented.

According to Google, some of the technology they are currently patenting will never even hit the market.
Google claims that though they recently acquired the patent for pay-per-gaze (PPG) technology (charging advertisers for how long a user looked at their ad and recognizing their emotional reaction to the ad), they have no immediate plans to implement it. This seems questionable though, as far too much from the PPG patent is modeled to fit Google Glass for me to believe that they are not working on a plan of development.

There are obvious problems that arise with PPG, seeing that this technology will not be truly effective until a majority of the population is using Google Glass on a regular basis, but it’s hard to believe that Google does not have this goal in mind for the future.

The other technology that I alluded to in this intro is the Gimbal Proximity System recently developed by Qualcomm Industries. This technology accesses your smartphone when you enter into the proximity of a sign or ad from a company that has purchased this software. Once this happens, your browser history and personal information (age, race, gender, etc) is immediately assimilated and an advertisement catered specifically to you will appear. This could include walking by a shoe store and seeing your favorite brand, make, and size of shoe appear; or passing by a restaurant, and watching your favorite food pop up, looking delicious and inviting.

There are thousands of uses that advertisers could find for this product, but the ethical questions surrounding its use must be dealt with first. Face detection software is already being used in billboards and advertisements where companies can analyze facial expressions, time spent looking, and personal information for anyone who glances at their advertisement. They can then use this information to cater their advertisements more-specifically, but should advertisers really have access to all the information contained on our smartphones?

There are so many ethical quandaries with these new “advancements” that we must tread carefully and question everything in great depth before we allow it to become reality. The world of Big Brother (The novel, not the TV show) was created by allowing this type of monitoring software to run rampant throughout society, and while I do not believe that Google currently has evil intentions for this technology, I must question any company that is rapidly creating a tech-monopoly where they will have eyes and ears into every facet and aspect of humans’ lives.

Even the impoverished will not be free of Google’s reach; Google is currently working on Project Loon, a global mission to release a network of “balloons travelling on the edge of space” that can bring Internet access to those in the world who do not have it or cannot afford it. While this sounds like a noble goal, I think these “balloons” should be thoroughly inspected, and every data-collection or monitoring process that they engage in should be well-documented. Every dystopian novel begins with a utopia of excess and innovation that takes a swift turn for the worst, and these novels seem to mirror our current society more and more as technology continues to increase its scope and reach.

To keep up to date with the latest happenings in the world of search, visit Fringe's Homepage

Thursday, August 29, 2013

GOOGLE+: An Champion of SEO

SEO’s have been speculating for sometime now about how Google+ affects a client’s search rankings. Though Google has emphatically denied any preferential treatment for Google+ in its search algorithm, new evidence has recently surfaced suggesting otherwise.

A recent correlation study conducted by Moz looked at common elements that numerous high-ranking sites share. Moz conducts a similar study every few months, but this time, they decided to focus specifically on Google +1’s and their connection to high search rankings.

What they discovered was that Google +1’s were correlated to raised search rankings more than any other online factor outside of a company’s Page Authority. 

These +1’s were shown to be even more influential than keyword usage for raising search rank.

Other studies on the power of Google+ have been conducted recently with similar results, but one thing is now clear: your company/business MUST have a well-developed Google+ page if you want to stay relevant in Google’s search rankings.

These Google+ pages are not only important for your search rank; now that Google is rolling out their Knowledge Carousel feature which utilizes visual search results (taken from companies’ G+ pages, of course) at the top of each search result page, a company must use G+ if they want their brand or logo to be visible.

A company that has no Google+ page (or a poorly maintained one) will show up on Google’s carousel as a bland and insignificant map thumbnail. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this would severely affect a company’s CTR (Click through rate) and hinder their site’s traffic.

It is important for businesses to maintain as much control over their search results as they possibly can, and without a G+ page, this becomes almost impossible to do.

So do yourself a favor: create a Google+ page today, fill out every section thoroughly, start connecting and networking, and post new and engaging content on a routine basis.

Doing this could be one of the most effective things you ever do for your company’s online presence.

Not doing so could permanently strand you on the outskirts of Google search.

The choice is up to you.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

In-Depth Articles: The Newest Google Real Estate

This past Tuesday Google announced that it will be adding a new "In-Depth articles" section to its search results page. These articles will appear inside a block in the middle of Google's results page, and will include longer form in-depth articles from high-quality sources. Google discovered that about ten percent of its users search on Google as a way to attain more meaningful skills and knowledge, and they need deeper, more sophisticated articles to accomplish this. This allows online businesses and SEO specialists to attain even more Google real estate than ever before, but this new section of Google results is not terribly simple to break into. There are many steps to follow, and businesses should contact their SEO specialists to make sure they are up to date with this new development. Here are some quick tips that Google laid out in its press release that will help companies take advantage of this new resource.

First, for articles to be considered, authors must utilize the Google+ Authorship markup. Authors must have a multi-layered Google+ account, a simple head shot, a byline containing their name on each page of their content, and an E-mail address on the same domain as their content. Once these steps are completed, Specialists must also utilize "Article" markup in their content coding to ensure that Google spiders can quickly analyze and rank their text. "Article" markup is a somewhat confusing field, so businesses would be wise to find a specialist that has experience in this style of coding. Also in the coding field, specialists must utilize rel=next and rel=prev tags for multi-page articles to help Google to view the content as a sequential passage. And finally, companies should use a proper organization markup to connect their site to with an iconic logo. This will help the company's logo to show up higher in Google rankings to ensure a stronger brand for their content.

All of these steps, on top of the creation of stellar content, must be utilized if online businesses wish to be a part of this new section of Google. By doing this, companies will have more avenues for SEO growth to add into their content marketing campaigns. In-depth articles can already be seen for searches of broad topics like music, movies, art, and history; however, Google has made it clear that this section will not be included on every single SERP (search engine results page) out there. It is clear though that this new section will allow companies to identify and engage potential customers who are willing to spend time reading and researching their field, rather than just the every day one-click passers bye.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Relevance of Link Building 2013

 Link building is a term that has gotten a bad reputation in the SEO world recently with Google's latest algorithm changes and updates. It is a term that takes many to a vision of spam, pop-ups, and all things harmful and annoying in the online world.

 But what exactly is the role of link building in modern SEO? Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting recently sat down for an interview with Matt Cutts, the head engineer, creator, and gatekeeper for Google's latest anti-webspam SEO campaign, in which, Cutts had this to say about the topic:

"not all link building is bad. The philosophy that we’ve always had is if you make something that’s compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it. And so a lot of people approach it from a direction that’s backwards. They try to get the links first and then they want to be grandfathered in or think they will be a successful website as a result.
Their goal should really be to make a fantastic website that people love and tell their friends about and link to and want to experience. As a result, your website starts to become stronger and stronger in the rankings."

Not a bad sentiment, but it is a far cry for the automated ease of link farming and banner havoc that many old-school SEO specialists grew up utilizing. So, link building is still a very viable aspect of modern SEO and content marketing, but specialists need to make sure that they are achieving high-quality, reputable links. 

Online businesses must keep their campaigns focused, intriguing, and easy to discuss. It is only through this that businesses will achieve the results that Cutts alludes to. Many companies are now experimenting with video and photo/infographic based marketing schemes with much success.

 It is certainly a visual, short-attention span world out there, and marketers are starting to see that short compelling bursts of information can be far more effective than long drawn-out articles. It is all about capturing interest and generating momentum, and quality over quantity has certainly become the name of the game in this realm.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Your Mobile Website is Making you Lose Customers

Why is it important to have a good mobile site?
With everyone starting to use their mobile phones to look up simple things on the internet, why is it important to have a mobile website that is easy to friendly to the user?

Here’s a scenario that many of you have probably experienced before. You want to look up a local burrito place so you do a quick Google search on your iPhone. You get a nice list of burrito restaurants in the area. You finger down the organic list and come across a burrito place that sounds appealing. So you tap on the blue link and you get the most inconvenient thing you have ever come across.

First off the font is too big to fit on one page, and then you notice you can’t zoom out and the giant font is just the default page. You try to ignore this and click on the menu button to find prices, every time you tap the menu it brings you back to the home page. This website was taking you into an infinite loop of homepages and you decide not to go to that place and move on.

You navigate yourself back to the Google Search page and shake off the last terrible webpage you were just on. As your stomach starts to growl you hopefully tap on another burrito restaurants website. You are instantly surprised.

The page is the nicest thing you have ever seen. It is beautifully designed and easy to navigate through. The menu is a nice image that you can tap on and view the whole menu and are able to zoom in for prices, the phone number is ready to be clicked on to make a phone call and the address is ready to be entered into your navigation.

Now, if you were a hungry consumer, what burrito place would you go to? I like to think that most of us would go to the second burrito place that has an easy website to access and get to.

Also, think of your businesses mobile website? Is it optimized for a smart phone to get on? If it isn’t, today would be a good day to think about making your website able to be accessed easily from a smartphone.