Ah, Ha. Search May Be Dying

January 18, 2016

I did not know that. I am delighted to have wisdom available from a blog focusing on search engine optimization.

Dear, old search. Are you really dying? I thought you had pulled off one of the Carlos Castaneda transmogrifications into augmented intelligence, customer support services, analytics, and my favorite Big Data. If Vivisimo can pull this off at IBM, almost any company with information access capabilities can wake up as a metasearch company and go to bed as a Big Data champ with the four Vs dancing in one’s dreams.

The write up points out:

Recent years have revealed a worrisome trend (for Google anyway) — search engine use overall has declined from 90 percent in 2009 to 86 percent in 2014. This might not seem like much of a downward trend, but if you consider that overall global Internet use has increased by 67 percent in the same period, that’s a lot of Internet users who aren’t turning to search.

The article represents this wonderful Pew Research chart:


But the section which tickled my Alphabet Google fancy was this passage:

There’s no denying that Google is the most complex searchable database on the Internet. It offers billions of results and is constantly innovating new ways to determine your search needs. However it would seem that Google’s impressive scope is the very thing that is sending people to apps and other websites to find the information they need. People want results that are personalized for them, while Google is busy trying to be everything for everyone. There are simply too many relevant results in Google’s database to match the personalization capabilities of apps and websites. That’s why apps are increasingly being used as research channels, especially among teens, who are 30 percent more likely to use them for search.

The inescapable conclusion seems to be that search is a goner.

I don’t agree, but that’s not germane to the SEO mavens who stand ready to serve customers eager for clicks, app downloads, and lots of SEO goodness.

At least the Mirror comes at the Alphabet Google thing with a bit of creativity. See, for example, “Google Slammed over Refusal to Advertise Plus Size Fashion to Curvy Consumers.” Now that’s real hard hitting evidence for the argument that search is on a down ward trajectory.

Stephen E Arnold, January 18, 2016

Stephen E Arnold

Scientific Research Has Turned into a Safe Space

December 31, 2015

The Internet is a cold, cruel place, especially if you hang out in the comments section on YouTube, eBay forums, social media, and 4chan.  If you practice restraint and limit your social media circles to trusted individuals, you can surf the Internet without encountering trolls and haters.  Some people do not practice common sense, so they encounter many hateful situations on the Internet and as a result they demand “safe spaces.”  Safe spaces are where people do not encounter anything negative.

Safe spaces are stupid.  Period.  What is disappointing is that the “safe space” and “only positive things” has made its way into the scientific community according to Nature in the article, “‘Novel, Amazing, Innovative’: Positive Words On The Rise In Science Papers.”

The University Medical Center in the Netherlands studied the use of positive and negative words in the titles of scientific papers and abstracts from 1974-2014 published on the medical database PubMed.  The researchers discovered that positive words in titles grew from 2% in 1974 to 17.5% in 2014.  Negative word usage increased from 1.3% to 2.4%, while neutral words did not see any change.  The trend only applies to research papers, as the same test was run using published books and it showed little change.

“The most obvious interpretation of the results is that they reflect an increase in hype and exaggeration, rather than a real improvement in the incidence or quality of discoveries… The findings “fit our own observations that in order to get published, you need to emphasize what is special and unique about your study,” he says. Researchers may be tempted to make their findings stand out from thousands of others — a tendency that might also explain the more modest rise in usage of negative words.”

While there is some doubt associated with the findings, because it was only applied to PubMed.  The original research team thinks that it points to much larger problem, because not all research can be “innovative” or “novel.”  The positive word over usage is polluting the social, psychological, and biomedical sciences.

Under the table, this really points to how scientists and researchers are fighting for tenure.  What would this mean for search engine optimization if all searches and descriptions had to have a smile?  Will they even invent a safe space filter?

Whitney Grace, December 31, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph




SEO Tips Based on Recent Google Search Quality Guidelines

December 30, 2015

Google has recently given search-engine optimization pros a lot to consider, we learn from “Top 5 Takeaways from Google’s Search Quality Guidelines and What They Mean for SEO” at Merkle’s RKG Blog. Writer Melody Pettula presents five recommendations based on Google’s guidelines. She writes:

“A few weeks ago, Google released their newest Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which teach Google’s search quality raters how to determine whether or not a search result is high quality.  This is the first time Google has released the guidelines in their entirety, though versions of the guidelines have been leaked in the past and an abridged version was released by Google in 2013. Why is this necessary? ‘Quality’ is no longer simply a function of text on a page; it differs by device, location, search query, and everything we know about the user. By understanding how Google sees quality we can improve websites and organic performance. Here’s a countdown of our top 5 takeaways from Google’s newest guidelines and how they can improve your SEO strategy.”

We recommend any readers interested in SEO check out the whole article, but here are the five considerations Pettula lists, from least to most important: consider user intent; supply supplementary content; guard your reputation well; consider how location affects user searches; and, finally, “mobile is the future.” On that final point, the article notes that Google is now almost entirely focused on making things work for mobile devices. SEO pros would do well to keep that new reality in mind.

Cynthia Murrell, December 30, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Overhyped Science Stuff

December 30, 2015

After Christmas, comes New Year’s Eve and news outlets take the time to reflect on the changes in the past year.  Usually they focus on celebrities who died, headlining news stories, technology advancements, and new scientific discoveries.  One of the geeky news outlets on the Internet is Gizmodo  and they took their shot at highlighting things that happened in 2015, but rather than focusing on new advances they check off “The Most Overhyped Scientific Discoveries In 2015.”

There was extreme hype about an alien megastructure in outer space that Neil deGrasse Tyson had to address and tell folks they were overreacting.  Bacon and other processed meats were labeled as carcinogens and caused cancer!  The media, of course, took the bacon link and ran with it causing extreme panic, but in the long run everything causes cancer from cellphones to sugar.

Global warming is a hot topic that always draws arguments and it appears to be getting worse the more humans release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Humans are always ready for a quick solution and a little ice age would rescue Earth.  It would be brought on by diminishing solar activity, but it turns out carbon dioxide pollution does more damage than solar viability can fix.  Another story involved the nearly indestructible tardigrades and the possibility of horizontal gene transfer, but a dispute between two rival labs about research on tardigrades ruined further research to understanding the unique creature.

The biggest overblown scientific discovery, in our opinion, is NASA’s warp drive.  Humans are desperate for breakthroughs in space travel, so we can blast off to Titan’s beaches for a day and then come home within our normal Earth time.  NASA experimented with an EM Drive:

“Apparently, the engineers working on the EM Drive decided to address some of the skeptic’s concerns head-on this year, by re-running their experiments in a closed vacuum to ensure the thrust they were measuring wasn’t caused by environmental noise. And it so happens, new EM Drive tests in noise-free conditions failed to falsify the original results. That is, the researchers had apparently produced a minuscule amount of thrust without any propellant.

Once again, media reports made it sound like NASA was on the brink of unveiling an intergalactic transport system.”

NASA might be working on warp drive prototype, but the science is based on short-term experiments, none of it has been peer reviewed, and NASA has not claimed that the engine even works.

The media takes the idea snippets and transforms them into overblown news pieces that are based more on junk science than real scientific investigation.


Whitney Grace, December 30, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

RankBrain, the Latest AI from Google, Improves Search Through Understanding and Learning

December 23, 2015

The article on Entrepreneur titled Meet RankBrain, the New AI Behind Google’s Search Results introduces the AI that Google believes will aid the search engine in better understanding the queries it receives. RankBrain is capable of connecting related words to the search terms based on context and relevance. The article explains,

“The real intention of this AI wasn’t to change visitors’ search engine results pages (SERPs) — rather, it was to predict them. As a machine-learning system, RankBrain actually teaches itself how to do something instead of needing a human to program it…According to Jack Clark, writing for Bloomberg on the topic: “[Rankbrain] uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand.”

Google scientist Greg Corrado spoke of RankBrain actually exceeding his expectations. In one experiment, RankBrain beat a team of search engineers in predicting which pages would rank highest. (The engineers were right 70% of the time, RankBrain 80%.) The article also addresses concerns that many vulnerable brands relying on SEOs may have. The article ventures to guess that it will be mainly newer brands and services that will see a ranking shift. But of course, with impending updates, that may change.
Chelsea Kerwin, December 23, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


New Patent for a Google PageRank Methodology

December 18, 2015

Google recently acquired a patent for a different approach to page ranking, we learn from “Recalculating PageRank” at SEO by the Sea. Though the patent was just granted, the application was submitted back in 2006. Writer Bill Slawski informs us:

“Under this new patent, Google adds a diversified set of trusted pages to act as seed sites. When calculating rankings for pages. Google would calculate a distance from the seed pages to the pages being ranked. A use of a trusted set of seed sites may sound a little like the TrustRank approach developed by Stanford and Yahoo a few years ago as described in Combating Web Spam with TrustRank (pdf). I don’t know what role, if any, the Yahoo paper had on the development of the approach in this patent application, but there seems to be some similarities. The new patent is: Producing a ranking for pages using distances in a Web-link graph.”

The theory behind trusted pages is that “good pages seldom point to bad ones.” The patent’s inventor, Nissan Hajaj, has been a Google senior engineer since 2004. See the write-up for the text of the patent, or navigate straight to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s entry on the subject.


Cynthia Murrell, December 18, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Business Intelligence Free Trials. Do Not Forget Great Free Trials

December 8, 2015

Want to dive into next generation business intelligence without spending several hundred thousand dollars? If I were younger, I would think about diving. I might even think about business intelligence.

Navigate to “7 Great Business Intelligence Software With Free Trials.” You will learn about software, which the write up describes as “great”, like these:

  1. BIME, a data warehouse
  2. Cyfe, an all in one business analytics dashboard
  3. Decibel Insight, a Web analytics software
  4. SalesforceIQ, a system to analyze customer relationships
  5. Sisense, an “insightful Big Data analysis tool”
  6. Wave Analytics Cloud, visualization to help you understand your customer base
  7. Zoho Reports, a “simple business intelligence app”

I knew about Cyfe and Zoho, and these are useful tools. I did not know about the other products.

The use of the word “great” might be a bit of an overstatement, but when it comes to business intelligence hyperbole seems to be part of the standard marketing tool kit. Great. The write up may do some annoying. The links to the companies mentioned point to the article itself. Content marketing done with the care of a fast food cook listening to an iPod, watching other workers actually work, and dreaming about the weekend.

Stephen E Arnold, December 8, 2015

Google and Search Quality Guidelines

November 21, 2015

You want your Web site to be found despite the shift to mobile devices. You want your mobile site to be found as more than half of the world ignores the old school approach to Web surfing. You want, no, you need traffic now.

The pathway to traffic heaven is explained in more than 150 pages of Google goodness. The Google Search Quality Guidelines may be downloaded for now at this link.

What will you learn:

  • How to conform to Google’s definition of “quality”
  • What to do to produce higher “quality” Web pages
  • What to do to signal Google that you are into mobile.

Does the document explain the thresholds and interlinkage of the “scores” generated by the layers of code wrapped around PageRank.


If you implement these actions, will you experience traffic like never before? Nah. Buy Adwords. The Google wants to shave time off its processes. The guidelines may have more to do with Google’s needs than webmasters?

I like the “proprietary and confidential” statement too.

Stephen E Arnold, November 21, 2015

An Early Computer-Assisted Concordance

November 17, 2015

An interesting post at Mashable, “1955: The Univac Bible,” takes us back in time to examine an innovative indexing project. Writer Chris Wild tells us about the preacher who realized that these newfangled “computers” might be able to help with a classically tedious and time-consuming task: compiling a book’s concordance, or alphabetical list of key words, their locations in the text, and the context in which each is used. Specifically, Rev. John Ellison and his team wanted to create the concordance for the recently completed Revised Standard Version of the Bible (also newfangled.) Wild tells us how it was done:

“Five women spent five months transcribing the Bible’s approximately 800,000 words into binary code on magnetic tape. A second set of tapes was produced separately to weed out typing mistakes. It took Univac five hours to compare the two sets and ensure the accuracy of the transcription. The computer then spat out a list of all words, then a narrower list of key words. The biggest challenge was how to teach Univac to gather the right amount of context with each word. Bosgang spent 13 weeks composing the 1,800 instructions necessary to make it work. Once that was done, the concordance was alphabetized, and converted from binary code to readable type, producing a final 2,000-page book. All told, the computer shaved an estimated 23 years off the whole process.”

The article is worth checking out, both for more details on the project and for the historic photos. How much time would that job take now? It is good to remind ourselves that tagging and indexing data has only recently become a task that can be taken for granted.

Cynthia Murrell, November 17, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Predictive Search Tries to Work with Videos

October 14, 2015

Predictive search is a common feature in search engines such as Google.  It is more well-known as auto-complete, where based on spelling and keyword content the search engine predicts what a user is searching for.  Predictive search speeds up the act of searching, but ever since YouTube became the second biggest search engine after Google one has to wonder if “Does Video Enhance Predictive Search?” asks Search Engine Watch.

Search engine and publisher of travel deals Travelzoo created a video series called “#zootips” that was designed to answer travel questions people might search for on Google.  The idea behind the video series was that the videos would act as a type of predictive feature anticipating a traveler’s needs.

“‘There’s always push and pull with information,’ says Justin Soffer, vice president of marketing at Travelzoo. ‘A lot of what search is, is people pulling – meaning they’re looking for something specific. What videos are doing is more of a push, telling people what to look for and showing them things.’ ”

Along with Travelzoo, representatives from SEO-PR and Imagination Publishing also agree that video will enhance video search.  Travelzoo says that video makes Web content more personal, because an actual person is delivering it.  SEO-PR recommends researching keywords with Google Trends and creating videos centered on those words.  Imagination Publishing believes that video content will increase a Web site’s Google ranking as it ranks media rich pages higher and there is an increase in voice search and demand for how-to videos.

It is predicted that YouTube’s demand as a search engine will increase more content will be created for video.  If you understand how video and predictive analytics work, you will have an edge in future Google rankings.

Whitney Grace, October 14, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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