Some Things Change, Others Do Not: Google and Content

January 20, 2017

After reading Search Engine Journal’s, “The Evolution Of Semantic Search And Why Content Is Still King” brings to mind how there RankBrain is changing the way Google ranks search relevancy.  The article was written in 2014, but it stresses the importance of semantic search and SEO.  With RankBrain, semantic search is more of a daily occurrence than something to strive for anymore.

RankBrain also demonstrates how far search technology has come in three years.  When people search, they no longer want to fish out the keywords from their query; instead they enter an entire question and expect the search engine to understand.

This brings up the question: is content still king?  Back in 2014, the answer was yes and the answer is a giant YES now.  With RankBrain learning the context behind queries, well-written content is what will drive search engine ranking:

What it boils to is search engines and their complex algorithms are trying to recognize quality over fluff. Sure, search engine optimization will make you more visible, but content is what will keep people coming back for more. You can safely say content will become a company asset because a company’s primary goal is to give value to their audience.

The article ends with something about natural language and how people want their content to reflect it.  The article does not provide anything new, but does restate the value of content over fluff.  What will happen when computers learn how to create semantic content, however?

Whitney Grace, January 20, 2016

Google Popular Times Now in Real Time

January 20, 2017

Just a quick honk about a little Google feature called Popular Times. LifeHacker points out an improvement to the tool in, “Google Will Now Show You How Busy a Business Is in Real Time.” To help users determine the most efficient time to shop or dine, the feature already provided a general assessment of businesses’ busiest times. Now, though, it bases that information on real-time metrics. Writer Thorin Klosowski specifies:

The real time data is rolling out starting today. You’ll see that it’s active if you see a ‘Live’ box next to the popular times when you search for a business. The data is based on location data and search terms, so it’s not perfect, but will at least give you a decent idea of whether or not you’ll easily find a place to sit at a bar or how packed a store might be. Alongside the real-time data comes some other info, including how long people stay at a location on average and hours by department, which is handy when a department like a pharmacy or deli close earlier the rest of a store.

Just one more way Google tries to make life a little easier for its users. That using it provides Google with even more free, valuable data is just a side effect, I’m sure.

Cynthia Murrell, January 20, 2017

Facebook and Google: The M Word Is Not Enough. The C Word Arises.

January 19, 2017

I believe everything I read on the Internet. I am so superficial. Perhaps I am the most superficial person living in rural Kentucky. The write up “The Google-Facebook Online Ad Cartel is the Biggest Competition Problem” seems to be the work of a person who specializes in future Internet competition. He has worked for presidents and written op eds for “real” journalistic outfits. I am convinced… almost.

The main point of the write up is that Facebook and Google operate as a cartel. I highlighted this statement:

Google commands ~90% market share of mobile search and search advertising. It protects those monopolies with an anti-competitive moat around Alphabet-Google by cross-subsidizing the global offering over 200 expensive-to-create, products and services for free, i.e. dramatically below Google’s total costs. Those many expensive subsidized products and services make Google’s moat competitively impregnable, because no competitor could afford to recreate them without a highly profitable online ad business, and the Goobook ad cartel forecloses that very competitive possibility.

The statement echoes Chaos Monkeys, the tell all about the high flying world of Silicon Valley.

I also noted:

In early 2013, Facebook launched its alternative to Google search, called “Facebook Graph Search” in partnership with Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Then in 2014, Google and Facebook obviously, abruptly, and relatively quietly, chose to no longer directly compete with one another. In the first half of 2014, Google reversed course in social, defunding Google+, ending its forced integration, and announcing the shutdown of Orkut, Google’s 300 million user social network. In the second half of 2014, Facebook quietly dropped its Facebook Graph Search alternative to Google search and its search partnership with Microsoft’s Bing.

One consequence is:

Goobook’s customers – advertisers — pay higher ad prices and have less cohesive and effective ad campaigns under the Goobook ad cartel than they would have if Google and Facebook continued to compete. No material competition to keep them honest, also means Google and Facebook can avoid third party accountability for the core advertising activity metrics that they use to charge for their ad services.

The net net is that US laws and policies:

favors free-content models over paid content models, ultimately produces monopolies and monopolies colluding in cartel behaviors that are hostile to property rights. Monopsonies [sic] de facto forcing property owners to offer their property for sale at a wholesale price at zero, is anti-competitive and predatory. Free is not a price, it’s a subsidy or a loss.

No monopoly word. The cartel word is the moniker for these two esteemed outfits grouped under the neologism “Goobook.” WWTD? Oh, that means “What will Trump do?” Perhaps the Trump White House will retain the author as a policy adviser for cartels?

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2017

Are You Really Beefing up Your Search Skills?

January 18, 2017

Everyone’s New Year’s resolution is usually to lose weight.  When January swings around again, that resolution went out the door with the spring-cleaning.  Exercise can be a challenge, but you can always exercise your search skills by reading Medium’s article, “Google Search Tricks To Become A Search Power User.”  Or at least the article promises to improve your search skills.

Let’s face it, searching on the Web might seem simple, but it requires a little more brainpower than dumping keywords into a search box.  Google makes searching easier and is even the Swiss army knife of answering basic questions.   The Medium article does go a step further by drawing old school search tips, such as the asterisk, quotes, parentheses, and others.  These explanations, however, need to be read more than once to understand how the tools work:

My favorite of all, single word followed by a ‘*’ will do wonders. But yeah this will not narrow your results; still it keeps a wider range of search results. You’ll need to fine tune to find exactly what you want. This way is useful in case when you don’t remember more than a word or two but you still you want to search fully of it.

Having used some of these tips myself, they actually make searching more complicated than taking a little extra time to read the search results.  I am surprised that they did not include the traditional Boolean operators that usually work, more or less.  Sometimes search tips cause more trouble than they are worth.

Whitney Grace, January 18, 2016

Google: A Selective History

January 16, 2017

If you want a selective history of Google, you will want to print out and hang on your wall “Almost Everything You Need to Know About Google’s History.” I would not be surprised is the pride of place goes to a diploma from a University of Phoenix type outfit, but that’s just an assumption on my part. I would point out that there are a few omissions which the Google watchers of the world might want to note. I pulled a few from my back file but I think these are important:

  • The idea for Web search which actually included more than a small percentage of accessible Web servers was an old one. The  Googley part of Google took inspiration from AltaVista and Jon Kleinberg, one of the IBM Almaden team which did Clever
  • Google bought Applied Linguistics, formerly Oingo. That was an important deal just like Google’s purchase of Transformic
  • The monetization of Google via AdWords was “inspired” by GoTo.com/Overture.com which Yahoo owned. Prior to the IPO, the GOOG settled out of court for about $1 billion.

Three omissions of this magnitude give you a good idea of how many pivot points have been left out of the carnival ride. Almost covers a great deal of ground, just like some roller coaster cars which jump off tracks.

Stephen E Arnold, January 16, 2017

Google Drones Down, Loon Balloons Up

January 16, 2017

I read “Alphabet Grounds Titan Solar-Powered Drones, Shifts to Project Loon Instead.” Whatever is going on at Google seems to make life tough for those involved in high school science projects. Bummer. Drones down. Balloons still aloft.

The write up explains:

One of X’s most hopeful initiatives involves providing universal internet access via sky-based wireless routers. One of them, Project Loon, uses high-altitude balloons to loft the routers in the air, and that project is still on track. Another, dubbed Titan and using fixed-wing solar-powered drones, isn’t so lucky…

I learned:

Titan made high-altitude, solar-powered drones that can stay in the air for extended periods of time and could likely serve a variety of purposes for Alphabet. The idea at the time seemed to be to combine the Titan drones with Project Loon balloons to provide internet access to underserved areas of the globe, but it appears that idea has been abandoned.

Alphabet Google needs to find a way to deal with the Alexafication of search. Ad revenue could be the next thing coming down. Will Loon balloons keep the company’s Yahoo-inspired online ad contraption aloft?

Stephen E Arnold, January 16, 2017

How Google Used Machine Learning and Loved It

January 16, 2017

If you use any search engine other than Google, except for DuckDuckGo, people cringe and doubt your Internet savvy.  Google has a reputation for being the most popular, reliable, and accurate search engine in the US.  It has earned this reputation, because, in many ways, it is the truth.  Google apparently has one upped itself, however, says Eco Consultancy in the article, “How Machine Learning Has Made Google Search Results More Relevant.”

In 2016, Google launched RankBrain to improve search relevancy in its results.  Searchmatics conducted a study and discovered that it worked.  RankBrain is an AI that uses machine learning to understand the context behind people’s search.  RankBrain learns the more it is used, similar to how a person learns to read.  A person learning to read might know a word, but can understand what it is based off context.

This increases Google’s semantic understanding, but so have the amount of words in a search query.  People are reverting to their natural wordiness and are not using as many keywords.  At the same time, back linking is not as important anymore, but the content quality is becoming more valuable for higher page rankings.  Bounce rates are increasing in the top twenty results, meaning that users are led to a more relevant result than pages with higher optimization.

RankBrain also shows Google’s growing reliance on AI:

With the introduction of RankBrain, there’s no doubt that Google is taking AI and machine learning more seriously.  According to CEO, Sundar Pichai, it is just the start. He recently commented that ‘be it search, ads, YouTube, or Play, you will see us — in a systematic way — apply machine learning in all these areas.’  Undoubtedly, it could shape more than just search in 2017.

While the search results are improving their relevancy, it spells bad news for marketers and SEO experts as their attempts to gain rankings are less effective.

Whitney Grace, January 16, 2016

Apache Tika Could Be the Google of Dark Web?

January 16, 2017

Conventional search engines can effectively index text based content. However, Apache Tika, a system developed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) can identify and analyze all kinds of content. This might enable law enforcement agencies to track all kind of illicit activities over Dark Web and possibly end them.

An article by Christian Mattmann titled Could This Tool for the Dark Web Fight Human Trafficking and Worse? that appears on Startup Smart says:

At present the most easily indexed material from the web is text. But as much as 89 to 96 percent of the content on the internet is actually something else – images, video, audio, in all thousands of different kinds of non-textual data types. Further, the vast majority of online content isn’t available in a form that’s easily indexed by electronic archiving systems like Google’s.

Apache Tika, which Mattmann helped develop bridges the gap by analyzing Metadata of the content type and then identifying content of the file using techniques like Named Entity Recognition (NER). Apache Tika was instrumental in tracking down players in Panama Scandal.

If Apache Tika is capable of what it says, many illicit activities over Dark Web like human trafficking, drug and arms peddling can be stopped in its tracks. As the author points out in the article:

Employing Tika to monitor the deep and dark web continuously could help identify human- and weapons-trafficking situations shortly after the photos are posted online. That could stop a crime from occurring and save lives.

However, the system is not sophisticated enough to handle the amount of content that is out there. Being an open source code, in near future someone may be able to make it capable of doing so. Till then, the actors of Dark Web can heave a sigh of relief.

Vishal Ingole, January 16, 2017

 

Google: Rah Rah for India

January 13, 2017

I read “Google Bets Big on Artificial Intelligence.” The content was not too new, but the India-centrism surprised me. Google is chasing India as a revenue source. Sure, the country is the Avis to the Hertz of China. But the Googlers are not thriving in the Middle Kingdom. My thought is that Google doesn’t want to be aced out of the second largest country in the world. If it drowns in the Ganges, that means that Google is not likely to be a player in China, Russia, and India. Those nation states have a lot of customers who will find happiness without the US online ad giant. Bad for Google’s stakeholders. Good for Google competitors who don’t find themselves blocked or bumped from a space ship ride.

The write up offers some interesting factoids; to wit:

  • Google’s smart software can detect a diabetic’s problematic retina
  • Google supports the Digital India project
  • Google wants cheaper smartphones
  • When Google develops products and services for India, Google develops for the world. (Keep in mind that the “world” may not include China and Russia, two beefy markets.)
  • In three to four years, big software companies will come out of India
  • India will compete with the rest of the world, but that “will take a few more years.”

The write up does not provide much information about Google’s smart software. I assume that the headline is designed to get the article about Google indexed by Google.

In short, Google is making sure it has water wings and a life preserver before putting its talons in the river.

Stephen E Arnold, January 13, 2017

Alphabet Google Sheds Letters

January 13, 2017

I read “Alphabet Said in Talks to Sell Skybox Satellite Business.” if true, believers in Alphabet Google’s ability to generate new ideas from acquisitions can embrace Loon balloons. According to the write up:

In June 2014, when Google acquired Skybox, the search giant said its equipment would help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. It also hoped to use the technology to improve internet access and disaster relief. The division operated within Google’s mapping business and it launched a small number of satellites, each about the size of a refrigerator. Alphabet seems to be switching from a strategy of developing its own satellite businesses to investing in other companies pursuing similar goals. The Skybox sale to Planet is an equity transaction, which means Alphabet will own a stake in the latter startup, according to some of the people familiar with the situation.

Net net according the the “real news” source:

Alphabet curbs plans for global internet satellite network.

Ah, Alphabet Google. After 15 years, one revenue stream. Let’s hope that one trick pony is keeping up with its vitamins.

Stephen E Arnold, January 13, 2016

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