On Wednesday, Google announced broad changes in its default data practices for new users, including a significant expansion in the company’s willingness to automatically delete data.

In a blog post announcing the changes, CEO Sundar Pichai emphasized the company’s commitment to privacy, security, and user choice. “As we design our products, we focus on three important principles: keeping your information safe, treating it responsibly, and putting you in control,” Pichai wrote. “Today, we are announcing privacy improvements to help do that.”

Google’s auto-delete feature applies to search history (on web or in-app), location history, and voice commands collected through the Google Assistant or devices like Google Home. Google logs that data in its My Activity page, where users can see what data points have been collected and manually delete specific items. Historically, Google has retained that information indefinitely, but in 2019, the company rolled out a way to automatically delete data points after three months or 18 months, depending on the chosen setting.

Starting today, those settings will be on by default for new users. Google will set web and app searches to auto-delete after 18 months even if users take no action at all. Google’s location history is off by default, but when users turn it on, it will also default to an 18-month deletion schedule.

The new defaults will only apply to new users, and existing Google accounts won’t see any settings change. However, Google will also be promoting the option on the search page and on YouTube in an effort to drive more users to examine their auto-delete settings. Auto-delete can be turned on from the Activity Controls page.

The system also extends to YouTube history, although the default will be set to three years to ensure the broader data can be used by the platform’s recommendation algorithms.

In some ways, the new settings represent a compromise between the privacy interests of users and Google’s business interests as an ad network. A user’s most recent data is also the most valuable since it can be used to target people who have recently engaged with a particular product. By keeping the last 18 months of activity, Google is able to retain most of that ad value while also deleting most of the data that would otherwise be available.

Alongside the new default settings, Google will also make it easier for users use Chrome’s Incognito mode, allowing mobile users to switch to Incognito mode with a long-press on their profile picture. The feature launches today on iOS and will soon come to Android and other platforms.

Google announced an expansion of the Password Checkup tool earlier this week.

[Source: This article was published in theverge.com By Russell Brandom - Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff] 

Categorized in Search Engine

The search engine giant's popular Maps app has gotten a new location-sharing interface as of recently, first noticed by Android Police. Location sharing has now adopted a material, modern look that also allows for more information to be immediately available.

Sharing your location is now also easier, by tapping your avatar and going to Location Sharing, after which a new button "New share" is available on the bottom right corner of the screen, as shown below.


Left - Old interface. Center - New interface. Right - New location sharing information section. Source - Android Police.

The seemingly minute change is actually a step towards a more unified look for Google Maps, as other areas of the app have already previously adopted this interface design.

In addition, an updated section at the bottom of Location sharing explains in better detail how the feature works, and clarifies what personal information gets shared along with your location to people whom you're sharing with. That includes not only where you are, but where you've just been and whether you're driving or walking, along with your places, such as home and work.

Earlier last month, Google also added new features to Search and Maps in an effort to help users connect to healthcare options. Notably, a new "get online care" link now appears when searching for doctor's offices or hospitals, guiding users, though this is currently available only in the United States.

In related news, Apple Maps added coronavirus testing locations across the US, now shown as red medical dots where available, in the Cupertino company's own efforts to help its users.

[Source: This article was published in phonearena.com By Radoslav Minkov - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank]

Categorized in Search Engine

 [Source: This article was Published in mirror.co.uk BY Sophie Curtis - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Google now lets you automatically delete your location history after a fixed period of time

It probably comes as no surprise that Google keeps track of everywhere you go via the apps you use on your smartphone.

This information is used to give you more personalised experiences, like maps and recommendations based on places you've visited, real-time traffic updates about your commute, help to find your phone and more targeted ads.

But while these things can be useful, you may not feel comfortable with the idea of Google holding on to that information indefinitely.

In the past, if you chose to enable Location History, the only way to delete that data was to go into your app settings and remove it manually.

But Google recently introduced a new setting that allows you to automatically delete your location history after a fixed period of time.

There are currently only two options - automatically deleting your Location History after three months or after 18 months - but it beats leaving a trail of information that you might not want Google or others to see.

Here's how to automatically delete your Location History on Android and iOS:

  1. Open the Google Maps app
  2. In the top left, tap the Menu icon and select "Your timeline".
  3. In the top right, tap the More icon and select "Settings and privacy".
  4. Scroll to "Location settings".
  5. Tap "Automatically delete Location History".
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions.

If you'd prefer to turn off Location History altogether, you can do so in the "Location History" section of your Google Account.


You can also set time limits how long Google can keep your Web & App Activity, which includes data about websites you visit and apps you use.

Google uses this data to give you faster searches, better recommendations and more personalised experiences in Maps, Search and other Google services.

Again, you have to option to automatically delete this data after three or 18 months.

  1. ​Open the Gmail app.
  2. In the top left, tap the Menu icon and select "Settings".
  3. Select your account and then tap "Manage your Google Account".
  4. At the top, tap Data & personalisation.
  5. Under "Activity controls" tap Web & App Activity"
  6. Tap "Manage activity".
  7. At the top right, tap the More icon and then select "Keep activity for".
  8. Tap the option for how long you want to keep your activity and then tap "Next".
  9. Confirm to save your choice.

The new tools are part of Google's efforts to give users more control over their data.

The company has also introduced "incognito mode" in a number of its smartphone apps, which stops Google tracking your activity

It is also putting pressure on web and app developers to be more transparent about their use of cookies so that users can make more informed choices about whether to accept them.

Categorized in Internet Privacy

[This article is originally published in searchengineland.com written by Amy Gesenhues - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Rene Meyer]

Google announced today that it is changing the way it labels country services on the mobile web, Google app for iOS and desktop Search and Maps.

According to Google, one in five searches is now location-related. To make search results more relevant, Google says the country of service will no longer be indicated by the country code top-level domain name (ccTLD) such as “google.co.uk” for the UK or “google.com.br” for Brazil, but instead will default to the country where the user is performing the search.

From the Google Search Blog:

  • So if you live in Australia, you’ll automatically receive the country service for Australia, but when you travel to New Zealand, your results will switch automatically to the country service for New Zealand. Upon return to Australia, you will seamlessly revert back to the Australian country service.

google search countryGoogle says that typing the relevant ccTLD into a browser will no longer return various country services. Instead, users must go into their settings and select the correct country service if they don’t see the country they want while browsing.

“This preference should be managed directly in settings. In addition, at the bottom of the search results page, you can clearly see which country service you are currently using,” writes Google.

Google says this latest update will improve the search experience by automatically providing users “… the most useful information based on your search query and other context, including location.”

Categorized in Search Engine

While GPS tagged photos are handy for always knowing where you took a photo, location data embedded in photos does have unsettling privacy and security implications. Should you be worried about the risk of people tracking you down via photos you post online?

Dear How-To Geek,

You guys need to help me out. My mom forwarded me this news clip which (I presume) another one of her friends with equally over-protective grandmotherly traits forwarded to her. Essentially it’s a clip from an NBC news segment highlighting how easy it is to extract the location from a photo. My mom is freaking out insisting that I’m putting my kids at risk because I put photos of them on Facebook and some abductor is going to come climb in their window.

Is this news clip just scare mongering to get people to watch the 10 o’clock news or is it something I actually need to be worried about? I’d really like to calm my mom down (and more sure I’m not actually posting my personal data like that all over the web).


Sorta Paranoid Now

Before we delve into the technical side of your issue, we feel compelled to address the social side. Yes, everyone is worried that something bad is going to happen to their kids (or grandkids), but realistically speaking, even if every photo we all posted online had our full home address printed right on the front like a watermark, the probability of anything bad happening to any of us (including our kids) is still nearly zero. The world just isn’t full of hordes of awful people we frequently allow ourselves to believe it is.

Even though the news does a good job making us feel like we live in a terrifying world filled with kid snatchers and stalkers, the actual crime stats paint a different story. Violent crime has been falling in the United States for decades and of the 800,000 or so missing children reported every year in the U.S., the vast majority of them are either teenage runaways or children taken by parents engaged in custody battles; only around 100 of them are your stereotypical stranger-snatches-child scenario.

That means stranger abductions account for only 0.000125% of all the under-18 missing person's cases in the U.S. and, based on Census data indicating approximately 74 million people aged birth-18 in the U.S., it means stranger abductions affect roughly 0.00000135% of the children. Yet no news producer has ever boosted their evening news rating by leading with “Tonight at 10, we’ll talk about how the chance of your child being abducted by a stranger is one hundred-thousandth of a percent higher than them getting struck by lightning!”

Now, while we hope you take the above information to heart,  we still understand that it’s good security practice to not put our personal information all over the web and to control who has access to the information we share; social side addressed, let’s look at the technical side of things and how you can control the flow of information.

Where Is The Location Data Stored?

Photos have EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) data. EXIF data is simply a standardized metadata set of non-visual data attached to photos; in analog terms think of it like the blank back of a photograph where you can write down information about the photo like the date, time, what camera you took the photo with, etc.

This data is, 99% of the time, extremely handy stuff. Thanks to the EXIF data, your photo organizer app (like Picasa or Lightroom) can tell you useful information about your photos such as shutter speed, focal length, whether or not the flash fired, etc. This information can be enormously useful if you’re learning photography and want to review what settings you used when taking specific photos.

It’s also the same data that allows for neat tricks like searching Flickr based on which camera took the photo and see what the most popular models are (as seen in the chart above). Professional photographers love EXIF data because it makes managing large photo collections significantly easier.

Some cameras and smartphones, but not all, can embed location data inside the EXIF. This is the 1% of the time where some people find the whole embedded EXIF data thing to be problematic. Sure it’s fun if you’re a professional photographer or serious hobbyist and you want to actively geotag your photos to appear on something like Flickr’s world map, but for most people the idea that the exact location (within 30 feet or so) where their photos were taken is linked to the photo is a little unsettling.

Here is where it pays to be aware of the capabilities of the equipment you’re shooting your photos with and to utilize tools to ensure that what your equipment is saying is happening, is actually happening.

How Do I Disable Geotagging?

The first step is to determine whether or not the camera you’re shooting with even embeds location data. Most stand-alone digital cameras, even expensive DSLRs, do not. GPS-tagging is still a new enough and novel enough technology that the cameras that feature it advertise it heavily. Nikon, for example, didn’t introduce a DSLR with built-in GPS tagging until October of 2013. DSLRs with geotagging remain so rare that most professionals who want it simply buy a small add-on device for their camera to provide it. GPS tagging is slightly more common in point-and-shoot cameras but still fairly rare. We recommend looking up the specific model camera you own and confirming whether or not it has GPS-tagging and how to disable it, if so.

Smartphones are, however, a completely different story. One of the big selling points for modern smartphones is the built-in GPS. That’s how your phone can give you accurate directions, tell you there is a Starbucks around the corner, and otherwise provide location-aware services. As such, it’s very common for photos taken with a smartphone to have embedded GPS-data because of the phones all ship with GPS chips right in them. Just because the phone has a GPS chip doesn’t mean you have to allow it to tag your photos.

If you’re sporting an iOS device, it’s easy to not only turn off geotagging but to limit which application can access location data on an application-by-application basis.

In iOS 7, navigate to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services. There you’ll find a general Location Services toggle (which we recommend leaving on, as so many features of the iPhone/iPad rely on location), and then below it, as seen in the screenshot above, individual toggles for individual apps. If you toggle “Camera” off, then the camera will no longer have access to the location data and won’t embed it in the EXIF data of the photos.

For Android, there are two ways to approach the issue. You can go into the camera app itself and disable geotagging. The exact route to the setting varies based on the version of Android and the camera you have, but it’s typically (from within the camera app) Settings/Menu -> Location Icon (tap the icon to toggle the location services on or off):

The alternative method is similar to disabling Location Services on iOS. You can go into your phone’s general Settings -> Location Access and turn off “Access to my location”. Unfortunately, unlike iOS, in Android, it’s an all or nothing setting. Given how useful GPS data is for other applications (like Google Maps), we’d recommend sticking with toggling the geotagging from within the camera app.

How Can I Confirm The Photos Aren’t Geotagged?

It’s all well and good to adjust the settings in your camera or phone, but how can you be sure that your photos are actually free of GPS/location data? Smart geeks trust but verify. The easiest way to check without having to install any special software is to simply check the properties of the photo on your computer. We took two photos, one with geotagging turned on and with geotagging turned off, to demonstrate.

Here is what the geotagged photo looks like when the file properties are examined in Windows:

Here’s a photo taken moments later with the same camera, with geotagging toggled off:

The entire GPS data chunk is missing; the EXIF report jumps right from advanced camera data to basic file information.

Most photo organizers like Windows Live Photo Gallery, Picasa, Lightroom, even lightweight apps like Infranview (with a free plugin) will read EXIF metadata.

How Can I Remove Location Data?

If you’ve successfully turned off geotagging for future photos, you still have (assuming geotagging was previously enabled for your camera) all the old ones to deal with. If you plan on uploading or sharing older geotagged photos, it’s wise to strip the information out of them before sharing them.

You may have noticed, in the previous section, that the file property box in Windows has a little “Remove Properties and Personal Information” link at the bottom of the interface. If you’re planning on uploading photos, you can highlight all the photos you intend to upload, right click, select Properties, and then bulk strip the data using that “Remove Properties” link in the detailed file view.

You’ll be prompted with the following window:

Here you can opt to completely strip the files of their EXIF data; this first option will make a copy of the files with all the EXIF data removed. You can also keep the original files and selectively remove the metadata (this option permanently removes the selected data from the files with no backup copy). If you want to take advantage of the EXIF data reading in an application or online service, but you don’t want to share your location, you can select this option and strip out only the GPS data.

Unfortunately, there is no built-in easy EXIF data stripper in OSX or Linux. That said, ExifTool is a free cross-platform tool for Windows, OS X, and Linux that can batch process photos and modify/remove their EXIF data.

If all your geotagged photos are on your mobile device and you don’t want to put them all on your computer to work with them, there’s an additional option. PixelGarde is a free application available for both Windows and OS X as well as Android and iOS devices. Using the application it’s easy to strip EXIF data in bulk right from your device.

Ultimately, while the actual risk of harm befalling yourself or your family as a result of EXIF data is pretty small (especially if you’re only posting photos to social networks where you’re communicating with friends and family), it certainly doesn’t hurt to strip the data. It’s easy to turn the feature off in your camera or phone, it’s easy to remove it after the fact, and unless you’re a photographer who needs or wants to geotag photos for precision logging and display, most of us are content to stick with using our memories to recall the photos were in fact taken in our own backyard.

Have a pressing tech question? Shoot us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Source: This article was published howtogeek.com By Jason Fitzpatrick

Categorized in Search Engine

Google Maps can help you avoid those embarrassing lost car moments

It happens to the best of us. You head to your local shopping mall, a crowded concert, or even just down the street to get your groceries. Everything is going according to plan until you head outside to leave and realize you have absolutely no idea where you left your car.

What if I told you that you could consistently escape all that using something you already have: your phone.

Google Maps has a built-in feature that allows you to save where you parked your car directly in the app. It’s something a number of different apps can do these days, but something Google has perfected in a way with the addition of one small feature: the ability to leave notes.

Why is a note important: If you’ve parked in a 14-story parking structure then being able to pinpoint the GPS location of your car isn’t going to do you a ton of good. Yes, you know your car is in this structure but is it on floor five or floor twelve? Chances are good you don’t remember. Also, given its size, you may or may not be able to see your car from the elevator door, meaning you’ll probably have to wander around on a few floors before you’ll actually find the one you want. Not exactly ideal.

Here’s how to make it work:

Save Your Spot

Once you’ve found that perfect parking space and turned your car off, tap the blue location dot on Google Maps (that dot that’s highlighting where you are) to save your location. A small menu will appear at the bottom of the page with “See places near you,” an opportunity to calibrate your blue dot compass, and an option for “Save your parking.” Tap on the parking saver. Now, when you look at Google Maps, there will be a huge letter P on your map where you parked your vehicle that you can navigate to just like any other destination within Maps. It doesn't get easier than that.

Add More Info

If you’re parking somewhere a little more complicated, say a multi-level parking garage or the like, you’re also given the option with “Save your parking” to add some details.  Later when you get back to the deck, those details can be invaluable. For instance, you might right “4th floor” or “ground level by the stairs.” If you’re parking on the street rather than a deck, you can also use this feature to keep track of how long you have left in a spot through a special built-in meter counter. When time starts to run out, your phone can let you know so you don’t end up with a costly ticket.

Even if you don't think you'll need the details later, it's always a good idea to save a few noteworthy things just in case, especially those parking meter details.

One of Many

Google Maps isn't the only way to save where you parked. With iOS 10, Apple built a similar feature into the iPhone, and other apps like Waze and Google Now on Android can help get the job done. Of the options; however, Google Map's solution is perhaps the most robust and the one that's going to help you find your car no matter where you managed to leave it.
Source: This article was published lifewire.com By Emily Price
Categorized in How to

Local search marketing can be especially challenging for businesses with multiple locations. Contributor Jason Decker explains how to do it right. 

Search marketing for a local business is tough — but those of us helping businesses with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of locations know it is a completely different ballgame. It’s a challenge to get one business in one location to rank, much less hundreds of locations spread across thousands of miles.

This article is meant to serve as a guide for those performing enterprise local search. While many of the tips herein relate to any multi-location business, these tips are specifically tailored for enterprise-sized businesses and corporations with 50-1,000+ locations.

1. Create Unique Local Landing Pages

When it comes to enterprise local search, it is critical to have a well-designed local landing page forevery single location. The following best practices will help you dominate local search results.

  1. Title & Meta Tags. Be sure to use keyword optimized Title Tags that are unique to every single location. Include city, state and zip in your meta data. Have a unique meta Description for every page.
  2. NAP. Be sure to have your businesses Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) in a very visible part of the page. Ensure that your NAP is consistent across the entire website (this includes details such as “St.” vs. “Street” and “CO” vs. “Colorado”). It is important to be totally consistent.
  3. Use structured data (Schema) to markup with the appropriate type of business.
  4. Google Local Map. Embed your business’s Google Local Map and not just a generic Google Map with your address.
  5. Photos. Use photos to differentiate your listing, increase engagement, and encourage interaction. Local landing pages with no photos generally have a much higher bounce rate. Use a storefront photo as well as interior photos if possible. For more professional businesses, show photos of the employees with a short biography. Videos are even better!
  6. Unique Local Content. A major challenge for many multi-location businesses is creating unique content for each and every local landing page. You often see identical content with only a few small changes. This is very spammy, bad for the search engines, and bad for your potential customers. You must create unique, very localized content for every single page.Optimized URL. Created optimized local landing page URLs that are easy for humans andsearch engines to understand. A good formula to follow would be www.website.com/city-state-zip. If you have multiple locations in the same ZIP code, use some kind of differentiator such as a neighborhood, landmark or even a store number. The formula could be www.website.com/city-state-zip-differentiator.
    • Be sure to list all products or services as well as hours of operation.
    • Describe your city as well as your neighborhood. Mentioning nearby landmarks, parks, festivals or anything that makes your location unique is great! Be as specific as you can about your location. Mention your cross streets.
    • Describe any public transportation nearby such as subways, bus routes, etc.
    • Mention any awards or sponsored local businesses. Use badges that build trust such as BBB approved or industry specific badges.
  7. Optimized URLCreated optimized local landing page URLs that are easy for humans andsearch engines to understand. A good formula to follow would be www.website.com/city-state-zip. If you have multiple locations in the same ZIP code, use some kind of differentiator such as a neighborhood, landmark or even a store number. The formula could be www.website.com/city-state-zip-differentiator.If you create a unique page for every location and if you follow these best practices for local page content, this will build the foundation for local search success.

2. Build Citations 

In search engine optimization terms, a citation is a mention of your business name, address and phone number (NAP) on another webpage, even if there is no link to your website.


An important factor in local search ranking algorithms is the number of citations, the accuracy and consistency of these listings, and how authoritative the website providing the citation is. Submitting your site to local business directories such as Google+ Local, Yelp, Foursquare, etc., is therefore critical to building your local search presence.

When creating your plan to build citations, I recommend that you start with data aggregators such as Acxiom, Localeze, Infogroup & Factual. Then focus on major local directories such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Foursquare & Yelp.

Moz also offers some great tools to determine the most important local businesses listings based on your industry or city. Once you have your list ranked in order of importance, it’s time to get started.

Data aggregators can be expensive for marketers with many locations, but they are very important for local search. They are the fastest way to distribute local information for a large number of locations, as many local directory services get information directly from these sources (see the chart below).

Use as many of these services as you can, as it will save you the trouble of having to submit individually to hundreds of local directories.


If you are new to enterprise-level local marketing, you will be saddened to learn that many local directories do not allow for bulk uploading of data for multiple locations.

Yes, that’s correct: when creating listings for your business locations on directory sites, you will often have to repeat a process hundreds of times simply because there is no other option. (And some services, like Yelp, only allow for multi-location bulk uploading when you pay to advertise with them.)

That said, the following major local directory services do support bulk uploads for businesses with many locations, at no cost. Make sure you take advantage of this!

  1. Google My Business. Google gives the ability to upload a pretty much unlimited number of locations, so this is a great place to start and a very impactful first step. (Sadly, the system is still very glitchy, so be sure to factor in some time for fixing errors.)
  2. Bing Local. Bing’s bulk upload process is much lengthier than Google’s, but it is a must, as well. Expect at least a month for the whole process to take place.
  3. Foursquare. The process is simple, and Foursquare has really stepped up its features lately. Foursquare has truly become a trusted source of local data.

When you submit your business information to local directories and data aggregators, be sure that the business name, address and phone number (NAP) for each location is consistent with the way it’s presented on the site and on any local directories you may have already submitted to.

As mentioned above, NAP consistency is incredibly important for local search visibility. It enables search engines to identify each individual listing scattered across the web as referring to a single business location, thus strengthening your citation count for any given location.

The importance of NAP consistency across the web leads me to the final step:

3. Clean Up Existing Citations

This is an area that many businesses (especially large, multi-location businesses) ignore because it’s very time consuming and quite tedious work.

For example, many local marketers review each directory listing individually to verify content, add new listings, clean up duplicates, etc. If you can afford it, there are some great tools that can help identify existing citations and clean up duplicates for you.

These services are usually pretty expensive and may be a more cost-effective option for single location businesses, as the cost really starts to add up with multiple locations. A few of these services are WhitesparkYext and a brand new tool from Moz called Moz Local.

First, you should assess your current listings situation. There are a few free tools that will scan the web for your business and return information such as Name, Address, Phone Number inaccuracies, duplicates and more for a number of important listings. Moz Local offers a free tool for this, as does Yext.

These tools are great time savers and a good place to get an idea of how much work needs to be done for each location. More than likely, you are going to find some inaccuracies that need to be fixed.

For those doing it manually, search for each business location under each local directory. Where applicable, be sure to search a few different ways: by name (with variations), by phone number and ZIP. This way, you can determine if you are listed in a directory and find any duplicate listings at the same time.

If you find duplicate listings for a single business, keep the most accurate listing and report the others as duplicates.

Be sure to claim all local listings so you are the one managing them.

Continue to build and clean up as many citations as possible for every location. While this is a very tedious and time-consuming part of the process, it cannot be ignored.

It’s important to have as many local business listings as possible, and they absolutely need to be 100% accurate. Be sure to check back with any duplicates that you have found. Sometimes you will have to request to be deleted several times before they are removed.

Dominate The Local Search Results

We’ve covered the basics of building a winning local search strategy for enterprise businesses with multiple locations. To recap:

Start by creating a unique page for each individual business; utilize bulk uploads; distribute business information via data aggregators; optimize each business page using local search best practices; and build your citations.

This proven approach will help you dominate local search results, build your brand online, drive local website traffic, and generate local business results.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Source : http://searchengineland.com/

Categorized in Internet Technology


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