Bing Improvements

February 17, 2017

Online marketers are usually concerned with the latest Google algorithm, but Microsoft’s Bing is also a viable SEO target. Busines2Community shares recent upgrades to that Internet search engine in its write-up, “2016 New Bing Features.” The section on the mobile app seems to be the most relevant to those interested in Search developments. Writer Asaf Hartuv tells us:

For search, product and local results were improved significantly. Now when you search using the Bing app on an iPhone, you will get more local results with more information featured right on the page. You won’t have to click around to get what you want.

Similarly, when you search for a product you want to buy, you will get more options from more stores, such as eBay and Best Buy. You won’t have to go to as many websites to do the comparison shopping that is so important to making your purchase decision.

While these updates were made to the app, the image and video search results were also improved. You get far more options in a more user-friendly layout when you search for these visuals.

The Bing app also includes practical updates that go beyond search. For example, you can choose to follow a movie and get notified when it becomes available for streaming. Or you can find local bus routes or schedules based on the information you select on a map.

Hartuv also discusses upgrades to Bing Ads (a bargain compared to Google Ads, apparently), and the fact that Bing is now powering AOL’s search results (after being dropped by Yahoo). He also notes that, while not a new feature, Bing Trends is always presenting newly assembled, specialized content to enhance users’ understanding of current events. Hartuv concludes by prompting SEO pros to remember the value of Bing.

Cynthia Murrell, February 17, 2017

Tips for Better Search Results

February 2, 2017

Want to be an expert searcher? Gizbot shares some tips, complete with screenshots, in their brief write-up, “Here are 5 Tricks To Get Better Google Search Results.” Writer Sneha Saha begins:

To get any information about anything is easy. Just type the keywords on the Google Search engine and you are done. Rather you might just get information that is far more than what you would actually need. However, getting more information than you require is also a little annoying. Searching for the accurate information among the numerous links that Google provides you with is surely a tough task. We at GizBot have come up with a list of effective methods to try out to search the most accurate information on Google in just a few clicks.

Here are the five tricks: Search for synonyms using a tilde symbol; Use an asterisk in place of any word you cannot remember; Include “or” when confused between two options; Use “intitle” to find keywords within a title or “inurl” to find keywords within a URL; Narrow results by including a date range in your query. See the post for details on any of these search tips.

Cynthia Murrell, February 2, 2017

Rise of Fake News Should Have All of Us Questioning Our Realities

January 31, 2017

The article on NBC titled Five Tips on How to Spot Fake News Online reinforces the catastrophic effects of “fake news,” or news that flat-out delivers false and misleading information. It is important to separate “fake news” from ideologically-slanted news sources and the mess of other issues dragging any semblance of journalistic integrity through the mud, but the article focuses on a key point. The absolute best practice is to take in a variety of news sources. Of course, when it comes to honest-to-goodness “fake news,” we would all be better off never reading it in the first place. The article states,

A growing number of websites are espousing misinformation or flat-out lies, raising concerns that falsehoods are going viral over social media without any mechanism to separate fact from fiction. And there is a legitimate fear that some readers can’t tell the difference. A study released by Stanford University found that 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn’t spot authentic news sources from ads labeled as “sponsored content.” The disconnect between true and false has been a boon for companies trying to turn a quick profit.

So how do we separate fact from fiction? Checking the web address and avoiding .lo and .co.com addresses, researching the author, differentiating between blogging and journalism, and again, relying on a variety of sources such as print, TV, and digital. In a time when even the President-to-be, a man with the best intelligence in the world at his fingerprints, chooses to spread fake news (aka nonsense) via Twitter that he won the popular vote (he did not) we all need to step up and examine the information we consume and allow to shape our worldview.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 31, 2017

Advocacy Groups Back Google over Right to Be Forgotten Conflict

January 31, 2017

Does a European’s  “right to be forgotten” extend around the globe? (And if not, is one really “forgotten”?) Can one nation decide what the rest of the world is allowed to see about its citizens? Thorny questions are at the heart of the issue MediaPost examines in, “Google Draws Support in Showdown Over ‘Right to Be Forgotten’.”

Privacy-protection rights, established by European judges, demand Google remove search-result links that could embarrass a European citizen at the subject’s request (barring any public interest in the subject, of course). French regulators want Google to extend this censorship on its citizens’ behalf around the world, rather than restrict access just within that country’s borders. No way, says Google, and it has some noteworthy support—the Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations agree that what France is attempting sets a dangerous precedent.  Writer Wendy Davis elaborates:

Google argues that it can comply with the ruling by preventing links from appearing in the results pages of search engines aimed at specific countries, like Google.fr, for French residents. But the French authorities say Google must delete the links from all of its search engines, including Google.com in the U.S. Earlier this year, France’s CNIL [Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés ]rejected Google’s position and fined the company $112,000. Google is now appealing that ruling, and the Center for Democracy & Technology and others are backing Google’s position.

The CDT argues in a blog post that authorities in one country shouldn’t be able to decide whether particular search results are available in other countries—especially given that authorities in some parts of the world often object to material that’s perfectly legal in many nations. For instance, Pakistan authorities recently asked Google (unsuccessfully) to take down videos that satirized politicians, while Thai authorities unsuccessfully asked Google to remove YouTube clips that allegedly insulted the royal family.

Google itself has argued that no one country should be able to censor the Web internationally. ‘In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place,’ global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote on the company’s blog last year.

Indeed. As someone whose (most) foolish years occurred before the Web was a thing, I sympathize with folks who want to scrub the Internet of their embarrassing moments. However, trying to restrict what citizens of other countries can access simply goes too far.

Cynthia Murrell, January 31, 2017

A New Search Engine Targeting Scientific Researchers Touts AI

January 27, 2017

The article titled How a New AI Powered Search Engine Is Changing How Neuroscientists Do Research on Search Engine Watch discusses the new search engine geared towards scientific researchers. It is called Semantic Scholar, and it uses AI to provide a comprehensive resource to scientists. The article explains,

This new search engine is actually able to think and analyze a study’s worth. GeekWire notes that, “Semantic Scholar uses data mining, natural language processing, and computer vision to identify and present key elements from research papers.” The engine is able to understand when a paper is referencing its own study or results from another source. Semantic Scholar can then identify important details, pull figures, and compare one study to thousands of other articles within one field.

This ability to rank and sort papers by relevance is tremendously valuable given the vast number of academic papers online. Google Scholar, by comparison, might lead a researcher in the right direction with its index of over 200 million articles, it simply does not have the same level of access to metadata that researchers need such as how often a paper or author has been cited. The creators of Semantic Scholar are not interested in competing with Google, but providing a niche search engine tailored to meet the needs of the scientific community.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 27, 2017

Obey the Almighty Library Laws

January 23, 2017

Recently I was speaking with someone and the conversation turned to libraries.  I complimented the library’s collection in his hometown and he asked, “You mean they still have a library?” This response told me a couple things: one, that this person was not a reader and two, did not know the value of a library.  The Lucidea blog discussed how “Do The Original 5 Laws Of Library Science Hold Up In A Digital World?” and apparently they still do.

S.R. Ranganathan wrote five principles of library science before computers dominated information and research in 1931.  The post examines how the laws are still relevant.  The first law states that books are meant to be used, meaning that information is meant to be used and shared.  The biggest point of this rule is accessibility, which is extremely relevant.  The second laws states, “Every reader his/her book,” meaning that libraries serve diverse groups and deliver non-biased services.  That still fits considering the expansion of the knowledge dissemination and how many people access it.

The third law is also still important:

Dr. Ranganathan believed that a library system must devise and offer many methods to “ensure that each item finds its appropriate reader”. The third law, “every book his/her reader,” can be interpreted to mean that every knowledge resource is useful to an individual or individuals, no matter how specialized and no matter how small the audience may be. Library science was, and arguably still is, at the forefront of using computers to make information accessible.

The fourth law is “save time for the reader” and it refers to being able to find and access information quickly and easily.  Search engines anyone?  Finally, the fifth law states that “the library is a growing organism.”  It is easy to interpret this law.  As technology and information access changes, the library must constantly evolve to serve people and help them harness the information.

The wording is a little outdated, but the five laws are still important.  However, we need to also consider how people have changed in regards to using the library as well.

Whitney Grace, January 23, 2017

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

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