SEO Craziness: Design Is the Most Important Ranking Factor

December 3, 2016

I love the search engine optimization “experts.” The concepts, the ideas, the confections—Amazing. I read “Design: The Top SEO Ranking Factor.” The main idea is that arts and crafts are more important than accuracy, useful information, clear presentation, and the other factors identified by Google itself.

I learned:

The only way to sustain organic search ranking is to offer an experience that users engage with after landing on it.

I love statements containing the word “only.” The idea is that there is one, unique, remarkable, go-to thing to do to pump up a result is a list of results or in an app designed to provide search even though the user does not know he/she is performing a search. The write up explains:

User-centered design of organic search landing experiences is pretty simple: provide clearly scannable [sic], relevant, compelling text above the fold. Anything that distracts from that mission defeats the purpose.

Cart before horse and ready-fire-aim are essential tools for this approach to providing useful and usable information.

Stephen E Arnold, December 3, 2016

Google Versus Amazon: And the Price War?

December 2, 2016

I read “How Google Is Challenging AWS.” The factoids and the analysis weave together the cloud-smart software boomlet. Both companies want to generate big money, be recognized as leaders in artificial intelligence, and dominate the “cloud.”

There are some differences between the two outfits. The Google is a company based

Here’s the passage I highlighted:

To be sure, Google’s success is not assured: the company still has to grapple with a new business model — sales versus ads — and build up the sort of organization that is necessary for not just sales but also enterprise support. Both are areas where Amazon has a head start, along with a vastly larger partner ecosystem and a larger feature set generally. And, of course, AWS has its own machine learning API, along with IBM and Microsoft. Microsoft is likely to prove particularly formidable in this regard: not only has the company engaged in years of research, but the company also has experience productizing technology for business specifically; Google’s longstanding consumer focus may at times be a handicap. And as popular as Kubernetes may be broadly, it’s concerning that Google is not yet eating its own dog food. Still, Google will be a formidable competitor: its strategy is sound and, perhaps more importantly, the urgency to find a new line of business is far more pressing today than it was in 2006.

The MBA analysis covers the waterfront: References to trial balloons, buzzwords, and Google’s techno-prowess.

I did note one omission: The old-fashioned concept of price war. Google depends on advertisers to funds its attempts to generate new revenues, conquer unspoiled markets, and achieve Sillycon Valley greatness. Amazon, on the other hands, gets people to pay Amazon to reduce its administrative burden for its plumbing. Customers buy products and services from Amazon, which is a reworking of the big box store into a digital WalMart.

Yet the price war appears to be simmering. Who will back their horse to the finish: Advertisers who want a measurable return on ads in the murky, somewhat opaque world of online clicks? Customers who want to buy laundry detergent?

Harrod’s Creek remembers the gasoline price wars of yore. We remember them fondly. Perhaps the battle between Sillycon Valley and Seattle will evoke similar thoughts a few years down the line. Disruptions can be fun too.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2016


Stephen E Arnold,

Quote to Note: Forget Mobile. It Is Now Artificial Intelligence

December 2, 2016

I stumbled upon an interesting quote which I found noteworthy. Here’s the statement:

We have moved from a mobile first to an AI first world.

The statement appeared in “IT Life: Victor Lamburt, CTO Yandex Zen.” The write up references Yandex’s effort to expand its international business. The Zen project is a personalized news feed.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2016

Search Email: Not Yours. A Competitor’s.

December 2, 2016

I read “This Startup Helps You Deep Snoop Competitor Email Marketing.” I like that “deep snoop” thing. That works pretty well until one loses access to content to analyze. Just ask Geofeedia which is scrambling since it lost access to Twitter and other social media content.

The outfit Rival Explorer offers:

a tool designed to help users improve their email marketing strategy and product pricing and promotion through comprehensive monitoring of their competitor’s email newsletters. After creating a free account, users can browse through a database of marketing emails from over 50,000 brands. Rival Explorer offers access to a number of different email types, including newsletters, cart abandonment emails, welcome emails, and other transactional messages.

In terms of information access, the Rival Explorer customers:

can search by brand, subject, message body, date, day of week, industry, category, and custom tags and keywords. When users select a message, they’re able to view the sender email, subject line, and timestamp of the messages. In addition to those details, users can view the emails as they appear on tablets and smartphones, plus they also can toggle images to get a better idea of design and copy strategy.

You can get more information at this link. Public content and marketing information can be useful it seems.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2016

Google Shifts Development Emphasis to Artificial Intelligence

December 2, 2016

The article on The American Genius titled Google’s Ambitious Plans to Change Every Device on the Planet explains the focus on A.I. innovation by Sundar Pichai, a Google CEO. If you think Google is behind when it comes to A.I., you haven’t been paying close enough attention. Google has dipped its feet in voice recognition and machine translation as well as language understanding, but the next step is Google Home. The article states,

This device seems to be a direct answer to Amazon’s Echo. Google Home isn’t the only product set to launch, however. They also plan to launch a messaging app called Allo. This is likely a direct response to WhatsApp, Kik, and other popular messaging platforms… Google may be hoping Allo is the answer for what this particular platform is lacking. Allo and Google Home will both be powered by a “Google assistant” (a bit like Siri), but in their eyes, more engaging.

So what will the future landscape of A.I. technology look like? Depends on who you believe. Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon can all point to an existing product, but Google can mention AlphaGo, the computer program developed by Google DeepMind, in response. Pichai recognizes that Google must be all about the long game when it comes to A.I., because so far, we have only scratched the surface. What role will Google play in the much-feared A.I. arms race? All we know right now is that more Google is good for Google.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 2, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Vk Tops List of Most Popular Websites in Russia

December 2, 2016

For anyone interested in Internet usage outside the U.S., VentureBeat supplies a run-down of the most-used websites in Russia in its piece, “Russia’s Top 10 Websites Include Facebook, Google, Instagram, and YouTube.” Reporter Adrien Henni writes:

Russia’s top 10 websites 2016 ranked by SimilarWeb tell us how Russians are spending their time online. Russia’s top 10 websites of 2016 consist of four social networking sites, three search engines, email, video entertainment, and classifieds.  As opposed to some other markets, domestic sites dominate Russia but international websites still play a major role in the RuNet ecosystem.  This blog walks through the top sites, defining the domestic sites and elaborating on some of the Russian uses of internationally well-known sites. … The ranking has not seen a large shift since last year.

Though the VentureBeat headline emphasizes U.S. sites, the top four entries are Russian. In fact, the most popular site is one we’ve been examining—the Russian answer to Facebook, Vkontakte, a.k.a. VK. The write-up describes the site:

Vkontakte (VK), Russia’s local social media site,  is at the top of the list, making it the most popular website in Russia. This is no surprise with the increasing popularity of social media, not only in Russia but all over the world. Beyond staying connected with friends and family, VK offers entertainment services as well. Users are able to create playlists of videos and music.

Henni does not mention the looser restrictions on things like hate speech, which is apparently one of VK’s major draws (at least for now.) Unsurprisingly, innovative search engine Yandex is second on the list, followed by social-media site Odnoklassniki (OK), and Facebook barely made the list, on the heels of Google and Instagram. See the write-up for details on each site, and how Russians utilize it.

Cynthia Murrell, December 2, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Computational Limits: Just a Reminder to the Cheerleaders for Big Data and Analytics

December 1, 2016

“Let’s index everything” or “Let’s process all the digital data”. Ever hear these statements or something similar? I have. In fact, I hear this type of misinformed blather almost every day. I read “Big Data Coming in Faster Than Biomedical Researchers Can Process It” seems to have figured out that yapping about capture and crunch are spitting out partial truths. (What’s new in the trendy world of fake news?)

The write up points out in a somewhat surprised way:

“It’s not just that any one data repository is growing exponentially, the number of data repositories is growing exponentially,” said Dr. Atul Butte, who leads the Institute for Computational Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.

Now the kicker:

Prospecting for hints about health and disease isn’t going to be easy. The raw data aren’t very robust and reliable. Electronic medical records are often kept in databases that aren’t compatible with one another, at least without a struggle. Some of the potentially revealing details are also kept as free-form notes, which can be hard to extract and interpret. Errors commonly creep into these records. And data culled from scientific studies aren’t entirely trustworthy, either.

Net net: Lots of data. Inadequate resources. Inability to filter for relevance. Failure to hook “data” to actual humans. The yap about curing cancer or whatever disease generates a news release indicates an opportunity. But there’s no easy solution.

The resources to “make sense” of large quantities of historical and real time data are not available. But marketing is easy. Dealing with real world data is a bit more difficult. Keep that in mind if you develop a nifty disease and expect Big Data and analytics to keep the cookies from burning. Sure the “data” about making a blue ribbon batch of chocolate chips is available. Putting the right information into a context at the appropriate time is a bit more difficult even for the cognitive, smart software, text analytics cheerleaders.

Wait. I have a better idea. Why not just let a search system find and discover exactly what you need? Let me know how that works out for you.

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2016

Google and Its Search Results: Objective or Subjective

December 1, 2016

I love the Alphabet Google thing. The information I obtain via a Google query is spot on, accurate, perfect, and highly credible. Run the query “dancing with the stars” and what do you get? Substance. Rock solid factoids.

I read “Google Search Results Tend to Have Liberal Bias That Could Influence Public Opinion.” The write up informed me:

After analyzing nearly 2,000 pages, a panel rated 31% pages as liberal as opposed to only 22% that were conservative; the remaining 47% pages were neutral that included government or mainstream news websites.

And the source of this information? An outfit called That sounds like a company that would make Ian Sharp sit up and take notice. Don’t remember Ian Sharp? Well, too bad. He founded IP Sharp Associates and had some useful insights about the subjective/objective issues in algorithms.

The methodology is interesting too:

The study conducted by online search marketer found that 50 most recent searches for political terms on the search engine showed more liberal-leaning Web pages rather than conservative ones.

But the Google insists that is results are objective. But Google keeps its ranking method secret. The write up quotes a computer science professor as saying:

“No one really knows what Google’s search engine is doing,” said Christo Wilson, a Northeastern University computer science professor. “This is a big, complex system that’s been evolving for 15 years.”

Hmm. Evolving. I thought that the Google wraps its 1998 methods and just keeps on trucking. My hunch is that the wrappers which have been added by those trying to deal with the new content and new uses to which the mobile and desktop Web search systems are put are add ons. Think of the customization of a celebrity’s SUV. That’s how Google relevance has evolved. Cool, right?

The write up points out:

Google denies results are politically slanted and says its algorithms use several factors.

My hunch is that is well meaning, but it may have some biases baked into its study., like the Google, is based on human choices. When humans fiddle, subjectivity enters the arena. For real objectivity, check out Google’s translation system which may have created its own inter-lingua. That’s objective as long as one does not try to translate colloquial code phrase from a group of individuals seeking to secure their communications.

Subjective humans are needed for that task. Humans are subjective. So how does the logic flow? Oh, right. Google must be subjective. This is news? Ask Foundem.

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2016

Technology and Never: A Risky Proposition

December 1, 2016

I love the capitalist tool. Forbes does the content marketing thing with a soupçon of MBA craziness and the legacy of a once proud business publication. The write up which caught my attention is “Never Acquire Technology You Understand.” The premise strikes me as ill advised.

The premise of the article is that a person with money to invest should seek far out, unproven, unknown, and high risk technologies. I highlighted this statement:

due to a lack of market and technology insight, these decisions turn into a white elephant–the corporate equivalent of the Bridge to Nowhere.

Got that? Here’s a picture to help you out.


Note the role of “waiters”. Apparently below “developers” are folks who serve others and survive on tips and the hope a big break will come with the order. “Waiters” are really the patient ones at the bottom of the pile.

The write up dips into the notion of a “robo advisor.” There’s social media too. The bulk of the write up describes the three types of individuals involved in doing big things via financial technology or betting money on technology horses.

What strikes me is the conclusion of the write up:

Unless you truly and deeply understand the needs of your audience, it’s best to be patient and then apply a rational litmus test to determine the personality you will present to the marketplace. If you are not a rational Waiter, you may end up in the Valley of Technology as a loss-leading Acquirer and Developer.


The title says, “Buy stuff you don’t understand.” The conclusion says, “Sit tight.”

Forbes’ editors must have a deeper understanding of logic than I do. I thought that the approach of the smart money folks I used to work with followed some slightly different ideas; for example, diversification, allocation of a specific percentage to higher risk investments, and understand what you are dumping money into.

Errors in search and content processing companies are one example. Think of the dozens of investment firms which do not and did not understand the revenue potential of an information access company. In search, for example, a handful of companies have survived and most of the big name firms gen3rated a payoff when the company was sold to another firm. As standalone businesses, most search and content processing companies have not been home runs. The handful of high fliers has captured headlines due to financial improprieties or allegations of fancy dancing.

MBAs like to make money via flips or deals. Understanding a business is often not a prerequisite. Hey, it’s other people’s money. For those with some money, prudence makes sense. If something cannot be understood, the risks might be high. Do MBAs like wiring, side deals, and crazy double talk to get paid to be wizards?

Do dangerous technologies have a downside? Why not invest in fuel pool cleanups and let me know how that works out for you? You can even lend a hand. Oh, wear protective clothing. Some things which people don’t understand can have non financial consequences.

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2016

Could AI Spell Doom for Marketers?

December 1, 2016

AI is making inroads into almost every domain; marketing is no different. However, inability of AI to be creative in true sense may be a major impediment.

The Telegraph in a feature article titled Marketing Faces Death by Algorithm Unless It Finds a New Code says:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most-hyped topics in advertising right now. Brands are increasingly finding that they need to market to intelligent machines in order to reach humans, and this is set to transform the marketing function.

The problem with AI, as most marketers agree is its inability to imitate true creativity. As the focus of marketing is shifting from direct product placement to content marketing, the importance of AI becomes even bigger. For instance, a clothing company cannot analyze vast amounts of Big Data, decipher it and then create targeted advertising based on it. Algorithms will play a crucial role in it. However, the content creation will ultimately require human touch and intervention.

As it becomes clear here:

While AI can build a creative idea, it’s not creative “in the true sense of the word”, according to Mr Cooper. Machine learning – the driving technology behind how AI can learn – still requires human intelligence to work out how the machine would get there. “It can’t put two seemingly random thoughts together and recognize something new.

The other school of thought says that what AI lacks is not creativity, but processing power and storage. It seems we are moving closer to bridging this gap. Thus when AI closes this gap, will most occupations, including, creative and technical become obsolete?

Vishal Ingole, December 1, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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