Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

http://ezlocal.com/blog/post/encourage-customer-reviews.aspx by  all posts by jorge2. March 2010 19:45

Small businesses are in a unique position to truly benefit from customer reviews.  Chains are pretty well locked into their branding and there tends to be very little differentiation city-to-city and state-to-state.  They will build reputations for being consistent and predictable, but rarely break through to extraordinary.  However, small businesses are unencumbered by these expectations; small businesses have the opportunity to make a name for themselves as something really special.  Soliciting customer feedback can play a crucial role in building this reputation.  Here are 4 things to keep in mind as you encourage your own customers to review your business:

1)  Incentivize.  Give your customers a reason to review your business or service.  Offer them a coupon or discount off their next purchase if they go to Yelp, Citysearch or EZlocal and leave a review.  Here is an example of a flyer we encourage our members to distribute:

Review Card

2)  Link your business profiles on your own website.  Don’t count on customers tracking down your listing on Yelp, InsiderPages or EZlocal.  Add links to your website for each profile and further encourage customers to go leave reviews.  See the below picture in which a doctor integrated links to his Yelp profile on his own website:

Reviews

3)  Encourage a constant stream of reviews.  Keep the reviews trickling in, this serves two important purposes.  First, it looks better.  If you are visiting a profile whose reviews are all clustered around 3 or 4 dates, it looks questionable, a little bit planned and spammy.  A constant stream of reviews spread across all dates looks much better and will build more trust with potential customers.

Secondly, a constant review stream will add up in the long run.  Take a look at the below Yahoo search results for “carpet cleaning” near San Diego, CA.  Notice how the search placements are in perfectly descending order by their review count?  Make no mistake, review count matters so always keep that stream trickling in, it will add up and pay dividends, especially if your competitors are only making sporadic pushes for reviews.

Reviews on Yahoo!

4) Don’t discourage bad reviews.  We don’t live in a perfect world and no one expects your business to bat 1.000.  In fact, if your business has nothing but 5-star reviews across the board it might strike consumers as a bit suspect, is anybody that perfect?  Also, negative reviews offer a golden opportunity for you to prove yourself, to go above and beyond. The Consumerist actually has an entire category dedicated to incidences wherebusinesses stepped up and made things right after something went wrong.

The strength of small businesses often lies in customer service and attention to detail.  If a bad review falls on your doorstep, rejoice—you have a chance to showcase your talents and turn a negative review into a positive experience, something they will be impressed with and tell their friends about.  This word of mouth will prove to be incredibly valuable to your business.

Why Google Might Be Going to $0

Posted: April 1, 2012 in Google

http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/31/why-google-might-be-going-to-0/

JAMES ALTUCHER

posted 11 hours ago
google

Editor’s note: James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and entrepreneur. He is Managing Director of Formula Capital and has written 6 books on investing. His latest books are I Was Blind But Now I See and FAQ MEYou can follow him on Twitter @jaltucher.

Ken Lang could perform miracles. In 1990 we would head off to a bar near where we were going to graduate school for computer science, and we would bring a Go board. Then we would drink and play Go for five hours. At the end of the five hours, after a grueling battle over the board, I remember this one time when magically Ken would show up with two girls who were actually willing to sit down and hang out with two guys who had a GO BOARD in front of them. How did Ken do that?

Fast forward: 1991, CMU asks me to leave graduate school, citing lack of maturity. The professor who threw me out still occasionally calls me up asking me when I’m going to be mature enough.

Fast forward: 1994, one of our classmates, Michael Mauldin is working on a database that automatically sorts by category pages his spider retrieves on the Internet. The name of his computer: lycos.cs.cmu.edu. Lycos eventually spins out of CMU, becomes the biggest seach engine,  and goes public with a multi-billion dollar valuation.

Fast forward: Ken Lang starts a company called WiseWire. I was incredibly skeptical. I read through what the company is about. “No way,” I think to myself, “that this is going to make any money”.

1998: Ken files a patent that classified how search results and ad results are sorted based on the number of click-thrus an ad gets. He sells the company to Lycos for $40 million. Ken Lang becomes CTO of Lycos and they take over his patents.

$40 million! What? And then Lycos stock skyrockets up. I can’t believe it. I’m happy for my friend but also incredibly jealous although later in 1998 I sell my first company as well. Still, I wanted to be the only one I knew who made money. I didn’t think it was fun when other people I knew made money. And, anyway, weren’t search engines dead? I mean,what was even the business model?

Fast forward: the  2000s. Almost every search engine dies. Excite, Lycos, Altavista. Before that “the world wide web worm”. Lycos got bought by a Spanish company, then a Korean company, then an Indian company. To be honest, I don’t even know who owns it now. It has a breathing tube and a feeding tube. Somehow, in a complete coma, it is being kept alive.

One search engine, a little company called Google, figured out how to make money.

One quick story: I was a venture capitalist in 2001. A company, Oingo, which later became Applied Semantics, had a technique for how search engines could make money by having people bid for ads. My partner at the firm said, “we can probably pick up half this company for cheap. They are running out of money.” It was during the Internet bust.

“Are you kidding me, “ I said. “they are in the search engine business. That’s totally dead.” And I went back to playing the Defender machine that was in my office. That I would play all day long even while companies waited in the conference room. (See: “10 Unusual Things I Didn’t Know About Google, Plus How I Made the Worst VC Decision Ever“)

A year later they were bought by Google for 1% of Google. Our half would’ve now been worth hundreds of millions if we had invested. I was the worst venture capitalist ever. They had changed their name from Oingo to Applied Semantics to what became within Google…AdWords and AdSense, which has been 97% of Google’s revenues since 2001. 97%. $67 billion dollars.

Don’t worry.  I’m getting to it.

(Yahoo won hundreds of millions from Google on the Overture patent even before Google amassed the bulk of their $67 billion in overall revenues from AdWords)

Fast forward. Overture, another search engine company that no longer exists (Yahoo bought it) files a patent for a bidding system for ads on a search engine. The patent office says (I’m paraphrasing), “you can file patents on A, B, and C. But not D, E, and F. Because Ken Lang from Lycos filed those patents already.”

Overture/Yahoo goes on to successfully sue Google based on the patents they did win. Google settled right before they went public but long before they achieved the bulk of their revenues.

Lycos goes on to being a barely breathing, comatose patient. Fast forward to 2011. Ken Lang buys his patents back from Lycos for almost nothing. He starts a company: I/P Engine. Two weeks ago he announced he was merging his company with a public company, Vringo (Nasdaq: VRNG). Because it’s Ken, I buy the stock although will buy more after this article is out and readers read this.

The company sues Google for a big percentage of those $67 billion in revenues plus future revenues. The claim: Google has willfully infringed on Vringo – I/P’s patents for sorting ads based on click-throughs. I remember almost 20 years ago when Ken was working on the software. “Useless!” I thought then. Their claim: $67 billion of Google’s revenues come from this patent. All of Google’s revenues going forward come from this patent. And every search engine which uses Google is allegedly infringing on the Vringo patent and is being sued.

Think: Interactive Corp (Nasdaq: IACI) with Ask.com. Think AOL. Think Target which internally uses Google’s technologies. Think Gannett, which uses Google’s technology and is also being sued. Think, eventually, thousands of Google’s customers who use AdSense.

Think: “willfully”. Why should you think that? Two reasons. Overture already sued Google. Google is aware of Yahoo/Overture’s patent history. The patent history officially stated that Ken Lang/Lycos already has patented some of this technology.  What does “willfully” mean in legal terms? Triple damages.

Why didn’t Lycos ever sue? After Lycos had its massive stroke and was left to die in a dirty hospital room with some uncaring nurse changing it’s bedpans twice a day, Google was STILL Lycos’s biggest customer. Why sue your biggest customer? Operating companies rarely sue other operating companies. Then there are countersuits, loss of revenues, and all sorts of ugly things. The breathing tube would’ve been pulled out of Lycos and it would’ve been left to die.

Think: NTP suing RIMM on patents. NTP had nothing going on other than the patents. Like Vringo/Innovate. NTP won over $600 million from RIMM once Research in Motion realized this is a serious issue and not one they can just chalk up to a bad nightmare.

(the beginning of the end for RIMM)

Guess who NTP’s lawyer was? Donald Stout. Guess who Vringo’s patent lawyer is? Donald Stout. Why is Donald Stout so good? He was an examiner at the US Patent Office. He knows patents. They announced all of this but nobody reads announcements of a small public company like Vringo. It’s hard enough figuring out how many pixels are on the screen of Apple’s amazng iPad 3.

Well, Google must have a defense? Even though their AdWords results are sorted by click-throughs in the way described by the patent maybe they sorted in a different way (a “work-around” of the patent), and didn’t infringe on the patent.

Maybe: But look at Google economist Hal Varian describing their algorithm right here in this video. And compare with the patent claim filed in court by Vringo. You decide. But it looks like the exact same to me.

Maybe: But does Google want to risk losing ten billion dollars plus having all of their customers sued. The district the case is getting tried in rules 70% in favor of the plaintiff in patent cases. Most patent trials get settled on the court steps.

Maybe: But then there’s still Microsoft /Yahoo search which, by the way, sorts based on click-throughs and has not been sued yet.

Guess what? Google’s patent lawyer is Quinn-Emmanuel. They are defending Google. Oh, and here’s something funny. Guess who Yahoo’s lawyer is? Yahoo is suing Facebook for patent infringement in the search domain. Quinn-Emanuel. So the same lawyer is both defending and accusing in the same domain. Someone’s going to settle. Everyone will settle. If anyone loses this case then the entire industry is going down in the same lawsuit and the exact same lawyer will be stuck on both sides of the fence. I’m not a lawyer but that smells. The trial is October 16 in the Eastern District Court of Virginia and will last 2 weeks. An appeal process can take, at most, a year.

I’ve known Ken for 23 years. I’ve been in the trenches with him when he was writing what I thought was his useless software. I watched his company get bought and we’ve talked about these technologies through the decades.

I’ve read the patent case. I watched Hal Varian’s video. Also look at this link on Google’s site where they describe their algorithm. Compare with the patent claim.  I have a screenshot if they decide to take it down. $67 billion in revenues from this patent. Imagine: double that in the next ten years. Imagine: triple damages.

Vringo will have an $80 million market capitalization post their merger with I/P. NTP won $600 million from RIMM using the same lawyer. RIMM’s revenues are a drop in the bucket compared to Google. And compared to 1000s of Google’s customers who will be embarrassed when the lawyer shows up at their door also. That’s why I made my investment accordingly. Is Google going to take the risk this happens?

I doubt it.

You can think to yourself: “ugh, patent trolls are disgusting”. But the protection of intellectual property is what America is built on. Smart people invent things. Then they get to protect the intellectual property on what they invents. Other companies can’t steal that technology. That’s why we have such a problem outsourcing to China and other countries where we are worried they might steal our intellectual property. Patents are the defense mechanism for capitalism.

Ken can perform miracles. But no miracle would save me. At the end of one evening of Go playing and beer drinking in 1990 we gave two girls our phone numbers. I don’t know if Ken ever got the call. I didn’t. But I guess I’m happy where it all ended up.

Google Maps 8-bit for NES

Posted: April 1, 2012 in Google

http://9to5google.com/2012/03/28/google-launches-account-activity-monthly-insight-reports-based-on-web-interaction/

Google launches ‘Account Activity’: Monthly insight reports based on Web interaction

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March 28, 2012 at 11:16 am

Google just launched a new feature called “Account Activity” that sends account-holders monthly encrypted reports about their signed-in frittering across the Web and Google services.

Once a user opts-in to the feature, Google will confirm and then send the first monthly report (see image below). The full-report gives Account information, such as locations, browsers, and platforms employed while Internet surfing.

The report also gives Gmail specifics, like most contacted addresses and to-and-fro message counts, and it breaks-down other Google services’ particulars, including Web history with users’ top searches, types, and queries, and a personal YouTube report on uploaded video activity and viewers’ location data. Users can also delete old reports or browse previous months as they begin to pile up.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based Company hascome under fire in recent months over privacy concerns, so Google’s Product Manager Andreas Tuerk took to the official Google Blog this morning to alleviate any worries:

“Knowing more about your own account activity also can help you take steps to protect your Google Account. For example, if you notice sign-ins from countries where you haven’t been or devices you’ve never owned, you can change your password immediately and sign up for the extra level of security provided by 2-step verification.”

Tuerk also offered his report as an example of what to expect with Google’s new feature:

Account Activity is live now, but Google plans to roll out further compatibility with more of its services over the next few months. In the mean time, Google encourages account-holders to click the “Send feedback” button in the lower right corner of their reports to help the search engine comply with expectations.

Blind Man Is First “Driver” Of Google’s Self-Driving Car & Why It Was Legal

Mar 29, 2012 at 5:37pm ET by 

Google posted an amazing video of one of its self-driving cars taking a blind man for a drive. What was remarkable to me was that it’s the first time I’ve ever seen one of these cars in operation with a non-Google employee behind the wheel. It also raised some issues about whether the trip was legal. Yes, says the police department that helped arrange it.

Can Cars Legally Drive Themselves?

The legality of self-driving cars in California, where Google first started testing them, is unclear. When news of the cars first came to light in 2010, the New York Times summarized:

“The technology is ahead of the law in many areas,” said Bernard Lu, senior staff counsel for the California Department of Motor Vehicles. “If you look at the vehicle code, there are dozens of laws pertaining to the driver of a vehicle, and they all presume to have a human being operating the vehicle.” 

The Google researchers said they had carefully examined California’s motor vehicle regulations and determined that because a human driver can override any error, the experimental cars are legal. Mr. Lu agreed.

Since then, I’ve never seen any challenge to Google’s cars operating in California. There’s been no reports that any police department has pulled one of the non-driver drivers over for not actually driving the vehicle. Because the drivers are able to ultimately stop the car, that seems to have been deemed them being in control.

The First “User” Of A Google Self-Driving Car

That leads to the video of Steve Mahan sitting behind the wheel of one of these cars, which Google posted yesterday:

You don’t realize until about midway through the video that Mahan is legally blind. Given that he’s blind — and thus not a legally qualified driver — does that make the trip itself illegal?

Google referred me over to Detective Sgt. Troy Hoefling, of the Morgan Hill Police Department, which was involved with the video and test.

Hoefling told me that the trip was legal because there was a licensed driver sitting in the passenger seat who ultimately had control of the car in two ways. There’s an emergency stop button on the dashboard that could have been used, plus the driver has control through a computer hooked into the vehicle itself.

Hoefling also said that the trip went for about a mile to a mile-and-a-half, and that there were police cars in front and behind the car on the journey.

The journey itself had been programmed into the car. That’s why it’s able to do that amazing turn into the fast food restaurant for a taco stop. That’s not something the car would ordinarily know how to do.

Mahan, by the way, used to hold a driver’s license, Hoefling said. Google’s video bills him as “Self-Driving Car User #0000000001,” so I think the distinction of being the first official non-driver driver of a Google self-driving car who doesn’t work for Google falls to him. Chances are there have been others behind the wheel who don’t work for Google, but I’ve never seen reports of these.

Expect More Passengers, Less Non-Driver Drivers

Many non-Googlers have been treated to rides in these cars. For example, last year at the TED conference, I’d say well over one hundred people went for a spin. I was one of them. Here’s what it’s like inside, from a video I shot:

Keep in mind that the video above shows the car going on a closed-course far faster than it would normally operate, as a demonstration of how much control it has.

Will there be more people behind the driver’s wheel? Don’t expect that counter to quickly roll to #0000000002. Google told me:

Our normal tests still involve two engineers in the front and passenger seats, so this test is definitely an exception. That’s why it was coordinated so carefully. Even so, Steve had a great time, and the team was excited to let more people share in his experience.

As for the legality of these cars, last month Nevada became the first state to pass legislation allowing companies to formally apply for permission to test them. California is considering legislation to make things formal, as are Hawaii, Florida and Oklahoma, as NPR covers.

Congrats on the ride, Steve. You looked good eating  that taco while the car drove along.

Related Topics: Features & Analysis | Google: Self-Driving Cars


About The Author:  is editor-in-chief of Marketing Land & Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also oversees Marketing Land’s SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He maintains a personal blog called Daggle (and maintains his disclosurespage there). He can be found on FacebookGoogle + and microblogs on Twitter as@dannysullivan

Google Debuts New Online Magazine

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Google, Seo

March 24, 2011 by 
Google has quietly launched its own full-length online magazine, a quarterly publication whose aim is to create a “breathing space in a busy world.”

The first edition of Think Quarterly, based out of the U.K., is a 68-page dive into the world of data and its impact on business. The first thing most people will notice is that it’s a visually stunning piece of work. It’s a rich Flash app with Google’s quirky sensibilities and the in-depth writing you might find in BusinessWeek or Salon. Google’s quarterly magazine is edited and designed by creative agency The Church of London.

The articles themselves are thought pieces about major business and technology topics from a variety of freelancers and contributors. Google was able to snag Simon Rogers (editor of The Guardian‘s Datablog), Ulrike Reinhard (editor of WE Magazine), and other journalists for the project. Many of Think Quarterly‘s articles feature interviews with Google executives and technology leaders. Some of the people featured include Vodafone U.K. CEO Guy Laurence, Google chief economist Hal Varian and famed psychologist Peter Kruse.

“At Google, we often think that speed is the forgotten ‘killer application’ – the ingredient that can differentiate winners from the rest,” Matt Brittin, Google’s managing director of U.K. and Ireland operations, said in Think Quarterly‘s introduction. “We know that the faster we deliver results, the more useful people find our service.

“But in a world of accelerating change, we all need time to reflect. Think Quarterly is a breathing space in a busy world. It’s a place to take time out and consider what’s happening and why it matters.”

It’s unclear whether the new online magazine is another sign that Google is entering the media business or whether it’s just a project to feed the company’s intellectual curiosity. Google doesn’t describe its newest project as a magazine or a publication. Instead, Google calls it a book on its website and a “unique communications tool” on its Twitter account.

Regardless of what you call it, Think Quarterly is an interesting and informative experiment by the search giant.

Update: Google says that Think Quarterly is designed as useful information for its business customers. Here’s the company’s statement:

“Like most companies we regularly communicate with our business customers via email newsletters, updates on our official blogs, and printed materials. This short book about data was sent to 1,500 of our UK partners and advertisers.

“There are only a limited number of copies, and they aren’t for sale or designed for anyone other than our partners – but anyone who’s interested can visit the companion website at http://www.thinkquarterly.co.uk.”

 

 

 

 

http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/library/videos/gomo-helping-businesses-create-a-mobile-friendly-website/

About this Video

Millions of people are using mobile devices to get online every day. Does your business have a mobile friendly site?

Visit GoMo, an initiative by Google, to learn more about why mobile matters, test how your current site looks in mobile and get a free report with personalized mobile site recommendations.

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Speed of Dreams

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Google

Speed of Dreams

Technology is progressing at an exponential rate, but are we thinking big enough to take advantage? Astro Teller, Google’s Director of New Products, is determined to rise to the challenge.

WORDS BY Astro Teller

ILLUSTRATION BY Celyn Brazier

Technology is progressing at an exponential rate, but are we thinking big enough to take advantage? Astro Teller, Google’s Director of New Products, is determined to rise to the challenge.

It’s easy to make fun of the past. Remember when Thomas Watson, the head of IBM, said that the world would only ever need five computers? How about when DEC founder Ken Olsen, declared, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home?” Or when Bill Gates decided that 640K was all the memory a PC would ever need?

Never mind that these stories are apocryphal; we repeat them because they ring true. When you first used a computer, saw a PC, went to a website, or picked up a cell phone, did you imagine that these devices would someday be able to do even a fraction of the things that we now take for granted? Probably not, and since ignorance loves company, we take comfort in believing that brilliant people like Watson, Olsen, and Gates were just as short-sighted as the rest of us. Even if, in fact, they weren’t.

There’s no shame in exhibiting a failure of imagination; it’s a trapping of human psychology. When we come up against things we can’t forecast (for example, what would we do with 1,000 times more computing power in our phones?), we assume that if we can’t imagine it, it isn’t possible or won’t materialize.

That’s because we think in a linear fashion, subconsciously projecting our current pace of progress into the future. But technology is changing at a non-linear pace. Progress is speeding up, which is why, as Larry Page said at our Zeitgeist conference (paraphrasing Bill Gates), “People tend to overestimate what can happen in the next year but underestimate what can happen in the next five.”

While we can’t rewire our tendency to think linearly, we can train ourselves to recognize when that tendency is kicking in and consciously overcome it. This is sort of my job at Google. I work on a team that tries to find new opportunities to use major technical breakthroughs to solve big problems that could affect billions of people.

“When we come up against things we can’t forecast we assume that if we can’t imagine it, it isn’t possible.”

We start by thinking about what should be possible. How do we make that call? We know that computing power, bandwidth, and storage are getting better and cheaper. Information is ubiquitous, and data that used to be locked up in thousands of silos around the world (in universities, businesses, and governments) is now moving online and becoming widely accessible. These factors are leading us to a critical point: The rate at which computers are getting better at understanding semantic information (language, symbols, images, even facial expressions) is increasing.

If we assume that these ‘exponential trends’ are set to continue, we can stretch our minds to consider incredible advances. We do this by applying a powerful but simple rule of thumb: If a human can do it, so can a computer. This helps us differentiate between things that are impossible (like time travel) and those that are just really difficult (like self-driving cars). In computer science terms, a human consists of two video cameras, a pair of microphones, four actuators, and a remarkably powerful CPU; and we manage to drive cars just fine. Why would we think a robot couldn’t?

Once we decide that something is possible, we look at whether or not it’s useful. This is a critical step. There are plenty of technically challenging things that would be completely useless in real life. But if you believe that something is both possible to achieve and, once realized, would be tremendously beneficial, it becomes a fairly simple equation. Consider those self-driving cars again. Does it take a bigger leap of imagination to believe that they will someday exist? Or that they won’t? We bet that they will, and get to work.

Another good example is GPS. Twenty-five years ago it was possible to determine an object’s geographical position outdoors within 25m, but it only seemed useful for military, scientific, and marine applications. Even 15 years ago, consumer uses of the technology, such as maps with navigation, or location services like Foursquare and Google Latitude, were difficult for most of us to imagine. Today, of course, GPS is a ubiquitous consumer application. I can look at the map on my phone and it shows with 25m accuracy that I’m standing next to my car on the Google campus in Mountain View, California.

But GPS isn’t done. We now know that it’s possible to improve accuracy to 2.5m and to locate positions indoors as well as outside. But is it useful? We think so. How about the next two orders of magnitude? It should be possible, we believe, to pinpoint geographic location within 25cm, and perhaps to eventually whittle that down to 2.5cm. As for usefulness, many people can’t see it, but I’m betting that these potential improvements in localization accuracy will turn out to be every bit as valuable as the previous steps. I just can’t say exactly how.

“Imagine that the world’s most powerful supercomputers are a thousand times more powerful, and you can use them whenever and wherever you want. What will these new capabilities unleash?”

So what’s next? Fortunately, when you live in the twenty-first century and are in the imagination business, speed is your friend. Imagine that your PC, laptop, tablet, or phone is a thousand times more powerful. Imagine the wireless or wired networks that connect it to the internet are a thousand times faster as well. Imagine that every bit of recorded information that has ever been created is available online, while trillions of sensors around the planet are creating exabytes of new data every second. Imagine that the world’s most powerful supercomputers are a thousand times more powerful, and you can use them whenever and wherever you want.

What products or services will these new capabilities unleash? Could we develop software systems to read long papers and provide an accurate executive summary as fast as a search query is answered today? Sure, why not? That sounds incredibly useful. Could computers write their own software based on a system designer’s natural language specifications (‘Please take this app and develop different versions to run on the most popular consumer platforms’)?  Absolutely.

If something rides the rails of exponentially improving computer and data capability, and if its benefits are sufficiently powerful, it is likely to happen – whether we can imagine it today or not.

READY TO GO MO?

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Google, Seo

Millions more people are using mobile devices to get online every day. Does your business have a mobile-friendly site? If not—or if you’re not sure—you’ve come to the right place to get started.

http://www.howtogomo.com/en/d/

2/27/12 | 11:30:00 AM

 http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/02/search-quality-highlights-40-changes.html

This month we have many improvements to celebrate. With 40 changes reported, that marks a new record for our monthly series on search quality. Most of the updates rolled out earlier this month, and a handful are actually rolling out today and tomorrow. We continue to improve many of our systems, including related searches, sitelinks, autocomplete, UI elements, indexing, synonyms, SafeSearch and more. Each individual change is subtle and important, and over time they add up to a radically improved search engine.

Here’s the list for February:

  • More coverage for related searches. [launch codename “Fuzhou”] This launch brings in a new data source to help generate the “Searches related to” section, increasing coverage significantly so the feature will appear for more queries. This section contains search queries that can help you refine what you’re searching for.
  • Tweak to categorizer for expanded sitelinks. [launch codename “Snippy”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] This improvement adjusts a signal we use to try and identify duplicate snippets. We were applying a categorizer that wasn’t performing well for our expanded sitelinks, so we’ve stopped applying the categorizer in those cases. The result is more relevant sitelinks.
  • Less duplication in expanded sitelinks. [launch codename “thanksgiving”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] We’ve adjusted signals to reduce duplication in the snippets forexpanded sitelinks. Now we generate relevant snippets based more on the page content and less on the query.
  • More consistent thumbnail sizes on results page. We’ve adjusted the thumbnail size for most image content appearing on the results page, providing a more consistent experience across result types, and also across mobile and tablet. The new sizes apply to rich snippet results for recipes and applications, movie posters, shopping results, book results, news results and more.
  • More locally relevant predictions in YouTube. [project codename “Suggest”] We’ve improved the ranking for predictions in YouTube to provide more locally relevant queries. For example, for the query [lady gaga in ] performed on the US version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in times square], but for the same search performed on the Indian version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in India].
  • More accurate detection of official pages. [launch codename “WRE”] We’ve made an adjustment to how we detect official pages to make more accurate identifications. The result is that many pages that were previously misidentified as official will no longer be.
  • Refreshed per-URL country information. [Launch codename “longdew”, project codename “country-id data refresh”] We updated the country associations for URLs to use more recent data.
  • Expand the size of our images index in Universal Search. [launch codename “terra”, project codename “Images Universal”] We launched a change to expand the corpus of results for which we show images in Universal Search. This is especially helpful to give more relevant images on a larger set of searches.
  • Minor tuning of autocomplete policy algorithms. [project codename “Suggest”] We have a narrow set of policies for autocomplete for offensive and inappropriate terms. This improvement continues to refine the algorithms we use to implement these policies.
  • “Site:” query update [launch codename “Semicolon”, project codename “Dice”] This change improves the ranking for queries using the “site:” operator by increasing the diversity of results.
  • Improved detection for SafeSearch in Image Search. [launch codename “Michandro”, project codename “SafeSearch”] This change improves our signals for detecting adult content in Image Search, aligning the signals more closely with the signals we use for our other search results.
  • Interval based history tracking for indexing. [project codename “Intervals”] This improvement changes the signals we use in document tracking algorithms.
  • Improvements to foreign language synonyms. [launch codename “floating context synonyms”, project codename “Synonyms”] This change applies an improvement we previously launched for English to all other languages. The net impact is that you’ll more often find relevant pages that include synonyms for your query terms.
  • Disabling two old fresh query classifiers. [launch codename “Mango”, project codename “Freshness”] As search evolves and new signals and classifiers are applied to rank search results, sometimes old algorithms get outdated. This improvement disables two old classifiers related to query freshness.
  • More organized search results for Google Korea. [launch codename “smoothieking”, project codename “Sokoban4”] This significant improvement to search in Korea better organizes the search results into sections for news, blogs and homepages.
  • Fresher images. [launch codename “tumeric”] We’ve adjusted our signals for surfacing fresh images. Now we can more often surface fresh images when they appear on the web.
  • Update to the Google bar. [project codename “Kennedy”] We continue to iterate in our efforts to deliver a beautifully simple experience across Google products, and as part of that this month we made further adjustments to the Google bar. The biggest change is that we’ve replaced the drop-down Google menu in the November redesign with a consistent and expanded set of links running across the top of the page.
  • Adding three new languages to classifier related to error pages. [launch codename “PNI”, project codename “Soft404”] We have signals designed to detect crypto 404 pages (also known as “soft 404s”), pages that return valid text to a browser but the text only contain error messages, such as “Page not found.” It’s rare that a user will be looking for such a page, so it’s important we be able to detect them. This change extends a particular classifier to Portuguese, Dutch and Italian.
  • Improvements to travel-related searches. [launch codename “nesehorn”] We’ve made improvements to triggering for a variety of flight-related search queries. These changes improve the user experience for our Flight Search feature with users getting more accurate flight results.
  • Data refresh for related searches signal. [launch codename “Chicago”, project codename “Related Search”] One of the many signals we look at to generate the “Searches related to” section is the queries users type in succession. If users very often search for [apple] right after [banana], that’s a sign the two might be related. This update refreshes the model we use to generate these refinements, leading to more relevant queries to try.
  • International launch of shopping rich snippets. [project codename “rich snippets”]Shopping rich snippets help you more quickly identify which sites are likely to have the most relevant product for your needs, highlighting product prices, availability, ratings and review counts. This month we expanded shopping rich snippets globally (they were previously only available in the US, Japan and Germany).
  • Improvements to Korean spelling. This launch improves spelling corrections when the user performs a Korean query in the wrong keyboard mode (also known as an “IME”, or input method editor). Specifically, this change helps users who mistakenly enter Hangul queries in Latin mode or vice-versa.
  • Improvements to freshness. [launch codename “iotfreshweb”, project codename “Freshness”] We’ve applied new signals which help us surface fresh content in our results even more quickly than before.
  • Web History in 20 new countries. With Web History, you can browse and search over your search history and webpages you’ve visited. You will also get personalized search results that are more relevant to you, based on what you’ve searched for and which sites you’ve visited in the past. In order to deliver more relevant and personalized search results, we’ve launched Web History in Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Morocco, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Kuwait, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Nigeria, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Bosnia and Herzegowina, Azerbaijan, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Republic of Moldova, and Ghana. Web History is turned on only for people who have a Google Account and previously enabled Web History.
  • Improved snippets for video channels. Some search results are links to channels with many different videos, whether on mtv.com, Hulu or YouTube. We’ve had a feature for a while now that displays snippets for these results including direct links to the videos in the channel, and this improvement increases quality and expands coverage of these rich “decorated” snippets. We’ve also made some improvements to our backends used to generate the snippets.
  • Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.
  • Improvements to English spell correction. [launch codename “Kamehameha”] This change improves spelling correction quality in English, especially for rare queries, by making one of our scoring functions more accurate.
  • Improvements to coverage of News Universal. [launch codename “final destination”] We’ve fixed a bug that caused News Universal results not to appear in cases when our testing indicates they’d be very useful.
  • Consolidation of signals for spiking topics. [launch codename “news deserving score”, project codename “Freshness”] We use a number of signals to detect when a new topic is spiking in popularity. This change consolidates some of the signals so we can rely on signals we can compute in realtime, rather than signals that need to be processed offline. This eliminates redundancy in our systems and helps to ensure we can continue to detect spiking topics as quickly as possible.
  • Better triggering for Turkish weather search feature. [launch codename “hava”] We’ve tuned the signals we use to decide when to present Turkish users with the weather search feature. The result is that we’re able to provide our users with the weather forecast right on the results page with more frequency and accuracy.
  • Visual refresh to account settings page. We completed a visual refresh of the account settings page, making the page more consistent with the rest of our constantly evolving design.
  • Panda update. This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.
  • Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.
  • SafeSearch update. We have updated how we deal with adult content, making it more accurate and robust. Now, irrelevant adult content is less likely to show up for many queries.
  • Spam update. In the process of investigating some potential spam, we found and fixed some weaknesses in our spam protections.
  • Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.

And here are a few more changes we’ve already blogged about separately: