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Daniel K. Henry

Daniel K. Henry

It’s a medical truism that married people live longer than their single counterparts, who – the wisdom goes – are more likely simply to wither away in a landslide tinned food and cats, malnourished in vitamins, mental stimulation and, of course, love.

A ragbag of egos whose predilection for meaningless banter over a firm offer of dinner dished out in half-arsed Whatsapp fragments would simply not compute in our grandparents’ world

Yet when it comes to older women, a zimmer frame-sized crack has appeared in the numbers. Older women are not simply less keen on living with older men than the reverse, but massively less keen. Lo! It appears that men get more out of marriage than women do.

According to a new American study, 75 per cent of men ages 65 to 74 are married, compared with 58 per cent of women in that age group. At ages 75-84, 75 per cent of men are still married, whereas the number of women still tethered to a man is just 42 per cent. And by 85, 60 per cent of men are married, but only 17 per cent of women are.

Clearly, some of this is to do with women’s higher life expectancy and the fact that women marry older men. And although many older women face poverty and loneliness on their own, many actually choose not to remarry.

They’ve got friends, book clubs and a lifetime of picking up after other people to make them think twice before adding another Y chromosome to the mix. It can’t be coincidence either that the oldest woman in the world, 116-year old Emma Morano, booted out her husband in 1938 and has been living solo ever since.

As a newly single woman in her early(ish) thirties, I couldn’t help but regard this new research with interest. For if our grandmothers are finding that their generation of men are more trouble than they’re worth, they should see the current batch, their gloating, gurning pictures undulating in a roiling sea of digital faces.

To my slowly-adjusting eyes, modern Internet man seems to have been farmed in some subterranean cavern where basic manners, a kind smile, a twinkle in the eye and the ability to write a decent sentence – let alone a witty one free of emoticons and emojis – counts for nought.

No wonder discerning single women in their 30s routinely express a mixture of frustration, disgust and fatigue with their supposed opposite numbers: a ragbag of egos, whose predilection for meaningless banter over a firm offer of dinner dished out in half-arsed Whatsapp fragments would simply not compute in our grandparents’ world.

It must be said that the grandparental world of proper courtships, urgent sexual infatuation born of oppressive restraints and love poetry rooted in actual knowledge of Tennyson, Arnold and Hardy did come with costs.

The men may have been more impressive, their masculinity more a force of nature than a narcissistic patchwork of tastes and preferences, but they were more often sexist patriarchal tyrants. Women were wooed with vim and originality in order to become mothers and wives, trapped in often miserable marriages. We don’t want a return to that.

But if modern man is inscrutable, using the excuse of sexual equality to jettison chivalric panache, generosity of spirit and well-thought out plans, then surely he can satisfy the modern woman’s sexual needs better than ever.

Alas, that too seems a dud. For it appears as though a large number of men, professional and otherwise, have actually become post-sexual. I put this down to daily porn binges and a lord-of-the-manner approach to swipe-app dating (a model evolved precisely to suit male preferences).

Indeed it is now well documented that quantity does not breed quality in the sexual paradigm, and that online porn, merged with the availability of women on hookup dating apps, is corroding real-life bedroom encounters.

As sociologist of pornography Gail Dines has observed, the visual glut is desensitising, and makes men callous and misogynistic, as well as robbing sex of what used to be considered the 'erotic'.

Of course many men are lovely, kind, attractive and good fun to spend time with. Yet even this type of man is a troubled offering to the libidinous 30-something woman. Yes, the charming man about town has perfected his lexicon of cool, from which local craft beers to buy to which gigs to attend – all in super-tight purple trousers.

He’s progressive, has a lot of women friends, and is always up for a good time. But he’s sexy and he knows it. It's all been too easy for him.

Sex? Meh: he'd rather play his guitar tonight, thanks.

So what is the modern single woman to do? Follow her grandmothers, that's what. More and more 30 and 40-something single women are choosing to be single, carving out their own ways to work, play and live.

Most people want to be loved, and have love to give, with sex a bonus but essential part of that. But between the post-sexual hipster and the Tinder-addicted, porn-binging young professional, it looks like women need to find an alternative. Milk Tray, anyone?

Source : telegraph


The finals of the Cyber Grand Challenge, in which contestants had to create automated digital defense systems that could identify and fix software vulnerabilities on their own, were held in August in Las Vegas.CreditBrandon Magnus for The New York Times

The vision of the so-called internet of things — giving all sorts of physical things a digital makeover — has been years ahead of reality. But that gap is closing fast.

Today, the range of things being computerized and connected to networks is stunning, from watches, appliances and clothing to cars, jet engines and factory equipment. Even roadways and farm fields are being upgraded with digital sensors. In the last two years, the number of internet-of-things devices in the world has surged nearly 70 percent to 6.4 billion, according to Gartner, a research firm. By 2020, the firm forecasts, the internet-of-things population will reach 20.8 billion.

The optimistic outlook is that the internet of things will be an enabling technology that will help make the people and physical systems of the world — health care, food production, transportation, energy consumption — smarter and more efficient.

The pessimistic outlook? Hackers will have something else to hack. And consumers accustomed to adding security tools to their computers and phones should expect to adopt similar precautions with internet-connected home appliances.

“If we want to put networked technologies into more and more things, we also have to find a way to make them safer,” said Michael Walker, a program manager and computer security expert at the Pentagon’s advanced research arm. “It’s a challenge for civilization.”

To help address that challenge, Mr. Walker and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, created a contest with millions of dollars in prize money, called the Cyber Grand Challenge. To win, contestants would have to create automated digital defense systems that could identify and fix software vulnerabilities on their own — essentially smart software robots as sentinels for digital security.

A reminder of the need for stepped-up security came a few weeks after the Darpa-sponsored competition, which was held in August. Researchers for Level 3 Communications, a telecommunications company, said they haddetected several strains of malware that launched attacks on websites from compromised internet-of-things devices.

The Level 3 researchers, working with Flashpoint, an internet risk-management firm, found that as many as one million devices, mainly security cameras and video recorders, had been harnessed for so-called botnet attacks. They called it “a drastic shift” toward using internet-of-things devices as hosts for attacks instead of traditional hosts, such as hijacked data center computers and computer routers in homes.

And last week, researchers at Akamai Technologies, a web content delivery company, reported another security breach. They detected hackers commandeering as many as two million devices, including Wi-Fi hot spots and satellite antennas, to test whether stolen user names and passwords could be deployed to gain access to websites.

The Cyber Grand Challenge was announced in 2013, and qualifying rounds began in 2014. At the outset, more than 100 teams were in the contest. Through a series of elimination rounds, the competitors were winnowed to seven teams that participated in the finals in August in Las Vegas. The three winning teams collected a total of $3.75 million in prize money.

With the computer security contest, Darpa took a page from a playbook that worked in the past. The agency staged a similar contest that served to jump-start the development of self-driving cars in 2005. It took the winning team’s autonomous vehicle nearly seven hours to complete the 132-mile course, a dawdling pace of less than 20 miles per hour.

Still, the 2005 contest proved that autonomous vehicles were possible, brushing aside longstanding doubts and spurring investment and research that led to the commercialization of self-driving car technology.

“We’re at that same moment with autonomous cyberdefense,” Mr. Walker said.

The contest, according the leaders of the three winning teams, was a technical milestone, but it also shed light on how machine automation and human expertise might be most efficiently combined in computer security.

In the security industry, the scientists say, there is a lot of talk of “self-healing systems.” But the current state of automation, they add, typically applies to one element of security, such as finding software vulnerabilities, monitoring networks or deploying software patches. And automated malware detection, for instance, is often based on large databases of known varieties of malicious code.

For the Darpa test, the attack code was new, created for the event. In the capture-the-flag style contest, the teams played both offense and defense. For the humans, it was hands-off during the competition. The software was on its own to find and exploit flaws in opponents’ software, scan networks for incoming assaults and write code to tighten its defenses.

The winners succeeded in integrating different software techniques, in ways not done before, into automated “cybersecurity systems.” The contest was conducted in a walled-off computing environment rather than the open internet.

The scientists agree that further development work needs to be done for the technology to be used broadly on commercial networks and the open internet.

“But this was a demonstration that automated cyberdefense is mature enough, and it’s coming,” said David Melski, captain of the second-place team whose members came from the University of Virginia and a spinoff start-up from Cornell University, GrammaTech, where Mr. Melski heads research.

The first-place team, which won $2 million, was a group from ForAllSecure, a spinoff from Carnegie Mellon University. Hours after the Darpa contest, its cyberreasoning software, called Mayhem, went up against the best human teams at Defcon, an annual hacking competition.

In that three-day contest, Mayhem held its own for two days and proved itself to be extremely strong on defense. But by the third day, the human experts had come up with more innovative exploits than Mayhem, said David Brumley, a professor at Carnegie Mellon and chief executive of ForAllSecure.

Still, the automated system displayed its power, especially in keeping up with the scale of security challenges in the internet-of-things era. “The number of things automated systems can look at is so vast that it changes the game,” Mr. Brumley said.

Yan Shoshitaishvili, a Ph.D. candidate who led the third-place team, a group from the University of California, Santa Barbara, is focusing his research on designing “centaur” systems that effectively combine machine firepower with human expertise.

Humans are still better than computers at understanding context — and security is so often defined by context. For example, you do want to broadcast your GPS location data to friends in a social app like Glympse; you do not want a program sending out location data if you’re in a battlefield tank.

“In the real world,” Mr. Shoshitaishvili said, “humans can assist these automated systems. That’s the path ahead.”

Source : nytimes.com


MOBILE technology such as smartphones and tablets are giving scammers fresh ways to steal your money.

Researchers say there are 25 million mobile services in Australia, more than one per person, with smartphones owned by 90 per cent of households and tablets owned by 60 per cent. It’s rich pickings for fraudsters who are mainly based overseas.

“Scammers are getting better at what they do,” says Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard.

“We have had more calls already this year about scams than all of last year.”

STAY VIGILANT ... ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard says scam reports are up this year. Source: Supplied




The ACCC’s Targeting Scams report found that phone and text message scams remain the most common delivery method, although a large proportion is still through landline phone calls that typically target older, vulnerable consumers.

One-third of all victims have been targeted by scammers through social media sites.

“Scams delivered online, including email, internet and social networking platforms, account for $37.6 million or 44 per cent of losses for reports identifying the scammer contact method,” the report says.

Rickard says SMS scams typically ask you to respond to an offer and result in you being charged high call rates or subscriptions.

“Tablets and smartphones are not impervious to scams and malware,” she says.

Older Australians hit by investment scams

The most likely way to get your mobile device infected is to download apps from non-official channels, Rickard says. Consumers should stick to the official iTunes and Android app stores and always allow devices’ security updates.

“Be wary of free downloads such as music, free apps, games and downloads from adult sites, which often contain harmful software,” Rickard says.

Making tap-and-go credit card payments with smartphones opens another channel for scammers, so it’s important to keep your device protected by passwords and security updates to it being used as a free credit card.

People’s Choice Credit Union CEO Steve Laidlaw says people sometimes forget that they now carry supercomputers in their pockets.

“Just like any computer, mobile devices are at risk of attack by hackers,” he says.

POCKET SUPERCOMPUTERS ... People's Choice Credit Union CEO Steve Laidlaw says mobile devices are at risk just like PCs. Picture: Stephen Laffer Source: News Corp Australia

“By installing security software, turning on the safety features of your device, activating login authentication on the device, SIM card and voicemail and by making sure Bluetooth is turned off when you’re not using it, you’ll help secure our personal information.”

Laidlaw says you should be careful when banking and shopping online, and never open attachments or links in emails or SMS messages from unknown and unexpected sources. Spelling and grammar mistakes can be a big giveaway in scam messages sent to you, he says.

“Avoid using free public Wi-Fi when sharing personal information online as these networks are not secure, and are easy for hackers to access.

“If you’re at the airport, in a cafe or on public transport, be aware of what’s on your screen and what is visible to others. Criminals can observe passwords and other private details from your screen without you knowing, so consider a privacy film for your device.”

Source : news.com

Have you received a telephone call from someone claiming to be an IRSemployee? This is a scam that has hit taxpayers in all 50 states. The callers tell the intended victims that they owe taxes and must pay immediately using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The victims are threatened with criminal charges, arrest, deportation, or loss of a driver’s license. Some of the callers can be quite aggressive and frightening.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received reports of approximately 736,000 contacts by scammers since October 2013. The Inspector General’s office also estimates that approximately 4,550 victims have collectively paid more than $23 million to the scammers.

What can you do to protect yourself? First of all, know that the IRS generally first contacts taxpayers by mail, not by phone. They will never ask for payment by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, and will never ask for a credit card number over the phone. If you receive one of these phone calls, just hang up (even if the caller ID appears as if it is the IRS calling – another part of the scam). As always, never, ever give out personal information to someone who has called you.


become-an-internet-research-specialistOther things to do if you receive a scam call: 

  1. If you do owe Federal taxes, or think you might, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees will be able to assist you.

  2. If you do not owe taxes, fill out the “IRS Impersonation scam” form on the Treasury Inspector General’s website, or call 800-366-4484.

  3. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

Fortunately, progress is being made to stop scamming operations. On October 6, 2016, it was reported that 200 police officers raided nine locations in Mumbai, India that were call centers for these IRS scam calls to the U.S. Seventy people have been arrested and another 630 are being investigated. Prosecution should not be difficult since the calls were recorded, and the police recovered 851 hard disks with the recordings.

Scammers are also using e-mail to find victims. On September 29, IRS issued a warning that scammers are sending a fraudulent version of IRS Form CP2000, which is sent to a taxpayer when income reported by a third-party (such as the taxpayer’s employer) does not match the income reported on the taxpayer’s return. The notice includes a payment request that the recipient mail a check made out to “I.R.S.” to the “Austin Processing Center” at a post office box address. There is also a “payment” link within the e-mail.

The CP2000 form is mailed to taxpayers through the U.S. Postal Service. The IRS does not request personal or financial information by e-mail, text, or social media. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in these e-mails. Instead, forward the e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Most people are nervous about a contact from the IRS, but you can protect yourself against scammers that are playing on this fear – just hang up or hit “Delete”!

Scammers often target older, retired people who are less familiar with fraudulent behaviors on the Internet or via phone calls. If you have an elderly relative or friend, you should reach out to make sure they are aware of this IRS scam. Also, if you are worried that a relative is susceptible to monetary scams due to failing health, early Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive disabilities, you might want to get a Power of Attorney so you can proactively protect their assets.

Source : natlawreview

Why was the patriot pig wearing tap shoes?

Because it was in the pen dance day.

That’s a bad joke. Even by smart home assistant standards it’s a bad joke. It’s one that Alexa told me last week while I was reviewing the new Echo Dot. That’s the thing — however intelligent your AI might be, that doesn’t mean it’s got a good sense of humor.

To really set itself apart from the likes of Alexa and Siri, the next great artificially intelligent assistant is going to need some better material. For its part, Google is looking to step up its new Assistant’s game with writers who have honed their skills with gigs at some beloved places

All of this is part of a bid to move the products from simple Q&A ‘bots to the kind of thing a user might actually form an honest to goodness emotional connection with, as though Herweren’t enough of a cautionary tale already. According The Wall Street Journal’s vaguely ominously titled article Your Next Friend Could Be a Robot, Google Home has already picked up some folks from places like The Onion and Pixar, somewhat echoing Anki’s recent hiring spree for its adorable upcoming robot, Cozmo.

And from the looks of it, the company is still looking for qualified candidates. A currentGoogle listing is seeking a candidate with “experience writing dialogue for plays/screenplays, fiction/interactive fiction, and/or comedy/entertainment.”

Who said there are no good gigs for liberal arts majors anymore?

Source: techcrunch.com

Monday, 10 October 2016 08:23

What Is Social Media Marketing?

What Is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining traffic or attention through social media sites.

Social media itself is a catch-all term for sites that may provide radically different social actions. For instance, Twitter is a social site designed to let people share short messages or “updates” with others. Facebook, in contrast is a full-blown social networking site that allows for sharing updates, photos, joining events and a variety of other activities.

How Are Search & Social Media Marketing Related?

Why would a search marketer — or a site about search engines — care about social media? The two are very closely related.

Social media often feeds into the discovery of new content such as news stories, and “discovery” is a search activity. Social media can also help build links that in turn support into SEO efforts. Many people also perform searches at social media sites to find social media content. Social connections may also impact the relevancy of some search results, either within a social media network or at a ‘mainstream’ search engine.

Social Media Marketing At Marketing Land

Marketing Land is the sister site to Search Engine Land that covers all facets of internet marketing, including these popular topics within social media marketing:

At Search Engine Land, we occasionally cover social media news with a search angle, you’ll find all of our most recent articles related to ‘social search’ here:

More Social Media Marketing Resources

Search Engine Land and Marketing Land produce three conferences dedicated to digital marketing strategies and tactics for professional marketers: SMX, the MarTech Conference and the SocialPro Conference series.

Many of our SMX events have topics that cover social media. There’s also our annual event entirely devoted to social media. Check out the site to learn more: SocialPro Conference.

Subscribe to our weekly Social Media Marketing digest and Marketing Day daily recap newsletters, with the latest articles from Marketing Land and Search Engine Land, as well as the day’s news sources all over the web.

Source : searchengineland

Bing says autocomplete suggestions for movies will analyze a user's natural language and intent to deliver the most likely interpretations.

Today, Bing announced improvements to its autocomplete technology for queries associated with academic papers and movies.

According to the announcement, Bing originally launched its new autocomplete features around academic paper queries earlier this year. Using technology designed by Microsoft’s Cognitive Services and Academic Search team, Bing’s new autocomplete suggestions for academic-related searches make it possible for users to, “…explore the relationships between papers, authors, topics and publications through a large object graph.”

Bing says academic queries like “find all papers by an author,” “find a paper written by particular co-authors,” or “find a paper about a specific topic presented at a conference” will surface real-time autocomplete suggestions that are “the most relevant” to the search.More-Intelligent-Autocomplete-01.png.aspx

For movie-related searches, Bing says its newly updated autocomplete feature helps users formulate their query by analyzing the user’s natural language input, and then determining intent (with “lightning-fast” technology) to surface the most likely interpretations.


While Bing’s previous autocomplete suggestions depended on a user’s previous queries and search trends, Bing says the newly updated autocomplete features – for both films and academic papers – work even if it’s the first time the query has ever been searched on the site: “This system can generate extensions to the query even if no user has ever typed them in before, allowing additional, never-seen-before suggestions to be generated.”

Bing offered an in-depth explanation of how its new autocomplete technology works on the Bing Search Blog: More Intelligent Autocomplete: Academic and Move Search.

Source : searchengineland

Google is often criticized for how it handles spammy links, but columnist Ian Bowden believes this criticism may be unfair. Here, he takes a look at the challenges Google might face in tackling the ongoing issue of paid links.

Prior to the recent arrival of Penguin 4.0, it had been nearly two years since Penguin was last updated. It was expected to roll out at the end of 2015, which then became early 2016. By the summer, some in the industry had given up on Google ever releasing Penguin 4.0. But why did it take so long?

I’d argue that criticism directed at Google is in many cases unjustified, as people often take too simplistic a view of the task at hand for the search engine.

Detecting and dealing with paid links is a lot harder than many people think, and there are likely good reasons why Google took longer than hoped to release the next iteration of Penguin.

Here are some of the challenges Google may have faced in pushing out the most recent Penguin update:

1. It has to be effective at detecting paid links

To run and deploy an effective Penguin update, Google has to have the ability to (algorithmically and at scale) determine which links violate guidelines. It’s not clear the extent to which Google is capable of this; there are plenty of case studies which show that links violating the guidelines continue to work.

However, not all paid links are created equal.

Some paid links are obviously paid for. For instance, they may have certain types of markup around them, or they may be featured within an article clearly denoted as an advertorial.

On the other hand, some links may have no telltale signs on the page that they are paid for, so determining whether or not they are paid links comes through observing patterns.

The reality is that advanced paid linking strategies will be challenging for Google to either devalue or penalize.

Penguin has historically targeted very low-quality web spam, as it is easier to distinguish and qualify, but a level above this is an opportunity. Google has to have confidence in its capability before applying a filter, due to the severity of the outcome.

2. Google is still dependent on links for the best quality search results

Maybe, just maybe, Google is actually capable of detecting paid links but chooses not to devalue all of them.

Most people will be familiar with third-party tools that perform link analyses to assess which links are “toxic” and will potentially be harming search performance. Users know that sometimes these tools get it wrong, but generally they’re pretty good.

I think it is fair to assume that Google has a lot more resources available to do this, so in theory they should be better than third-party tools at detecting paid links.

Google has experimented with removing links from their index with negative consequences for the quality of search results. It would be interesting to see the quality of search results when they vary the spammy link threshold of Penguin.

It’s possible that even though certain links are not compliant with webmaster guidelines, they still assist Google in their number one goal of returning users the best quality search results. For the time being, they might still be of use to Google.

3. Negative SEO remains a reality

If Google is sure that a link has been orchestrated, it is very difficult for the search engine to also be sure whether it was done by the webmaster or by someone else executing a negative SEO campaign.

If a penalty or visibility drop were as easy to incur from a handful of paid links, then in theory, it would be pretty straightforward to perform negative SEO on competitors. The barriers to doing this are quite low, and furthermore, the footprint is minimal.

Google has tried to negate this problem with the introduction of the disavow tool, but it is not realistic to think all webmasters will know of this, let alone use the tool correctly. This is a challenge for Google in tackling paid links.

4. It provides a PR backlash and unwanted attention

When rolling out large algorithm updates, it’s inevitable that there will be false positives or severe punishments for small offenses. After any rollout, there will be a number of “adjustments” as Google measures the impact of the update and attempts to tweak it.

Despite that, a large number of businesses will suffer as a result of these updates. Those who regularly join Google Webmaster Hangouts will be used to business owners, almost in tears, discussing the devastating impact of a recent update and pleading for more information.

While the vast majority of Google users will most likely never be aware of or care about the fallout of algorithm updates, these situations do provide Google with some degree of negative PR. Any noise that points toward Google yielding too much power is unwanted attention.

On a related note, sometimes penalties are just not viable for Google. When someone walks down Main Street, they expect to see certain retailers. It’s exactly the same with search results. Users going to Google expect to see the top brands. The user doesn’t really care if a brand is not appearing because of a penalty. Users will hold it as a reflection on the quality of Google rather than the brand’s non-compliance with guidelines.

To be clear, that’s not to say that Google never penalizes big brands — JCPenneySprintthe BBCand plenty of other large brands have all received high-profile manual penalties in the past. But Google does have to consider the impact on the user experience when choosing how to weight different types of links. If users don’t see the websites they expect in search results, the result could be switching to another search engine.

This is how Google deals with the problem

The above four points highlight some of the challenges Google faces. Fewer things are more important than meeting its objective of returning the most useful results to its users, so it has a massive interest in dealing with paid links.

Here are some ways Google could address the challenges it faces:

1. Prefer to devalue links and issue fewer penalties

Penalties act as a deterrent for violating guidelines, and they serve to improve the quality of search results by demoting results that were artificially boosted. A lot of the risk of “getting it wrong” can simply be mitigated through devaluing links algorithmically, rather than imposing manual penalties.

In the instance of a negative SEO attack, the spammy links, instead of causing a penalty for a website, could simply not be counted. In theory, this is the purpose of a disavow file. Penalties could be saved for only the most egregious offenders.

The fact that Penguin now runs in real time as part of the core ranking algorithm suggests that this is the direction they are heading in: favoring the devaluation of spammy links through “algorithmic” penalties (which websites can now recover from more quickly), and manual penalties only being applied for serious offenses.

2. Do a slow rollout combined with other updates

Slowly rolling out the Penguin 4.0 update provides Google two advantages. First, it softens the blow of the update. There is not one week when suddenly some large profile brands drop visibility, drawing attention to the update.

Second, it allows Google to test the impact of the update and adjust over time. If the update is too harsh, they can adjust the parameters. Penguin 4.0 may take several weeks to roll out.

To add to the confusion and make it more difficult to understand the impact of Penguin 4.0, it is probable Google will roll out some other updates at the same time.

If you cast your memory back two years to the introduction of Panda 4.1 and Penguin 3.0, they were rolled out almost in conjunction. This made it more difficult to understand what their impacts were.

There was a lot of SERP fluctuation this September. It is possible part of this fluctuation can be attributed to Penguin 4.0 testing, but there is no certainty because of the amount of other updates occurring (such as the local update dubbed “Possum“).

3. Encourage a culture of fear

Even if the risk of receiving a penalty is the same now as it was five years ago, the anxiety and fear of receiving one is much greater among brands. High-profile penalties have not only served their function of punishing the offending brand, but they also have provided a great deterrent to anyone else considering such a strategy.

The transition to content marketing and SEO becoming less of a black box assisted in this, but this culture of fear has been a large driver in the reduction of paid link activity.

Final thoughts

Google is often criticized for not doing more to tackle paid links, but I think that criticism is unfair. When one considers the challenges search engines face when tackling paid links, one can be more forgiving.

Now that Google has incorporated Penguin into the core algorithm, webmasters may have an easier time recovering from ranking issues that arise from spammy or paid links, as they will not have to wait until “the next update” (sometimes years) to recover from an algorithmic devaluation.

However, the fact that Penguin now operates in real time will make it more difficult for webmasters to know when a loss in rankings is due to spammy links or something else — so webmasters will need to be vigilant about monitoring the health of their backlink profiles.

I suspect that Google will continue to make tweaks and adjustments to Penguin after the rollout is complete, and I expect to see a continued shift from penalties to devaluing links over time.

Source: Search Engine Land

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