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Jasper Solander

Jasper Solander

Lifestage, Facebook’s newer “teens-only” app designed to counteract the Snapchat threat by giving younger users a place to connect outside of Facebook’s larger social network, has now arrived on Android. Previously an iPhone-only application, this experimental app represents Facebook’s attempt to woo the high schooler crowd, while also testing other features like video profiles, gamification elements, and more.

These things could make their way into Facebook’s main application, even if Lifestage itself later fails.

Lifestage is now one of many ways Facebook has been targeting Snapchat’s user base. In particular, the company understands that Snapchat’s camera-first design mechanism is one the social app’s key draws.

To engage Facebook users in similar ways, the company acquired photo and video filtering app MSQRD, then tried out selfie filters on Facebook using that technology,alongside opening your camera right on top of the News Feed.

It also reached out to the developer community with an offer of tools that would allow for third-party creation of profile filters, and it even internally tested a Snapchat clone called “Facebook Stories.”

More recently, Facebook has been testing another Snapchat clone as a standalone app called Messenger Day, and it rolled out a Snapchat-like feature in Instagram, “Stories,” which has become fairly popular.

Lifestage, therefore, is just one weapon in Facebook’s arsenal when it comes to competing with Snapchat. And, from the look of the early numbers, at least, it may not be one that lasts.

The app by its nature is limited to the high school crowd primarily. Technically, it’s for 21 and unders, but Facebook is hoping for viral spread through high schools in particular

In Lifestage, users answer bio questions with videos, which then unlocks more questions. And when you update your profile, you get a little sunglasses-smile emoji next to your name. If you don’t update, the smile turns to a frown, or even the poop emoji. This is meant to encourage regular engagement with the app.

In addition, users can show off what they like and dislike by adding it to their profile – a feature that caters to the ever-changing interests of younger users, who often latch on and then drop new trends more quickly than their older counterparts.

Launched this summer, Lifestage has so far failed to find significant traction, however – it’s not a viral hit. According to App Annie’s metrics, the app has dropped to #1289 in the Social Networking category on iTunes, which hits at slow adoption. (Of course, without the Android app, its potential reach has been limited until now.)

unnamed-4

It’s also, of course, targeting a narrower audience than most social apps. Lifestage blocks users over a certain age, which means it would never really climb to the top of the charts, even if it became a hit. (There is also some concern that Lifestage isn’t effectively blocking adults from signing up, which will become a larger problem as the app scales. It’s not likely the go-to destination for predators right now, though, given its small footprint.)

Still, even if Lifestage doesn’t ever find its footing as the next best teen thing, Facebook can take what it learned here, then incorporate those elements into its other products.

For example, though Facebook’s news-reading app Paper failed, it taught the company how to do Instant Articles. And via Lifestage, Facebook may discover how to better improve user profiles with video – something that is not yet working on Facebook itself, where video profiles are an option, but haven’t been widely adopted.

In the meantime, users of a certain age can download the Lifestage app for free from here on Google Play.

Source : techcrunch

Friday, 28 October 2016 05:01

Guest Post: VPN Tor vs Proxy Tor

The Internet today is huge. It offers many opportunities but also brings certain dangers. That is why need decent protection when we browse the web. The topic is quite popular and there are many options you can try. You can find much information about VPN, Proxy, TOR and other technologies but what does all that mean and which option should you choose. In this article, we will explain popular options in details, namely the trended TOR bundles TOR plus VPN and TOR plus Proxy.

Architecture

TOR is quite popular right now and it provides a decent level of protection. However, there are certain risks involved like malicious exit nodes .

There is a remedy. VPN or Proxy may serve as a great addition to TOR but only one of them can secure your traffic from malicious TOR nodes. Let us clarify why is that. The reason for that lies in the difference between VPN and Proxy technologies.

Security and Privacy

HTTP Proxy simply changes your IP for web traffic and SOCKS Proxy extends the functionality to work with other traffic (e.g FTP, BitTorrent, etc). Therefore, Proxy offers anonymity but not privacy.

VPN has an option of traffic encryption and DNS leaks protection. In other words, VPN provides both anonymity and privacy. VPN plus takes the concept to a new level and introduces an extra security layer .

This is a DNS leak test result for Privatoria’s VPN TOR service

Set-up process

There are not so many ways to use TOR together with Proxy and VPN. Proxy is more flexible in this regard as it can be used ensemble with TOR browser or Tails OS. The configuration process is trivial. You simply have to enter web browser’s preferences>advanced>network and enter the settings.

This is how Privatoria Proxy plus TOR settings look like on a Debian 8 with MATE desktop

There are also more advanced configurations that you can try, for example a Proxy Chain .

Unfortunately, VPN cannot be used inside Tails OS. The developers clearly state that on the official site . Fortunately, Privatoria offers a way to use TOR plus VPN. The best, you don’t have to use Tails OS or a web-browser for that. To configure Privatoria’s VPN TOR service on Debian-based systems use regular OpenVPN functionality (you’ll need packages “openvpn” “network-manager-openvpn” and “network-manager-openvpn-gnome” packages for it to work).

This is how the settings look like on a Debian 8 with MATE desktop

Speed

Proxy is an absolute winner in this situation. This is most because your connection only goes through one extra computer and not the whole network. The proxy also does not touch your OS networking infrastructure, unlike VPN. That is why VPN can slow the system down a little. Also, VPN connection speed should be slower compared to VPN due to a longer path that the data has to travel. Add TOR to the mix and what you’ll get is a pretty long distance. Fortunately, with Privatoria Proxy and VPN connection speed does not differ due to service’s specific system architecture.

Here is the speed test screenshot

Conclusion

Internet anonymity and privacy tools finally make their way to the mainstream audience. It is important to know the differences between Proxy and VPN and how both interact with the TOR network. The main point to remember is the that Proxy TOR should be used for simpler tasks like watching YouTube while VPN TOR is a choice better for sending a personal e-mail.

Source : deepdotweb

The fallout from the recent scandals that hit Yahoo! has begun with StartPage.com cancelling its partnership and saying it will drop search results from the Internet pioneer by the end of October.

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StartPage claims to be the world's most private search engine. Overnight, its chief executive Robert Beens said Yahoo! search results would not appear in his company's metasearch platform Ixquick.eu.

"We are not the only ones disturbed by Yahoo!’s lack of openness about major privacy violations," said Beens.

"Even though Ixquick.eu can’t be affected by Yahoo!’s government ties because of our strict privacy protections and our location outside US jurisdiction, we no longer feel comfortable partnering with them."

In September, Yahoo! confirmed that the account details of 500 million users had been leaked two years ago.

Then, early this month, reports emerged that Yahoo! had acquiesced to a request from either the FBI or the NSA to install a program on its servers to scan emails in order to find specific information.

And while Verizon struck a deal to buy Yahoo! in July, the wireless company appears to be having second thoughts about going through with the transaction.

The digital rights group Fight for the Future has now launched a "Dump Yahoo!" campaign urging users to delete their Yahoo! accounts.

“Yahoo! has made it easy to walk away,” said Beens. “Most of our users have already switched to our flagship private search engine StartPage.com for superior search results.”

He said StartPage.com has become popular because it delivered the best of two worlds: Google search results, and StartPage’s own privacy safeguards.

Another reason for StartPage’s popularity is its location in the Netherlands. The search engine is not subject to US laws like the Patriot Act, and cannot be forced to comply with US dragnet surveillance programmes, like PRISM.

“The Yahoo! scandal illustrates why being based outside US jurisdiction is so important to our customers,” said Beens. “People who care about privacy know that it’s very hard to trust US Internet companies with their data because the government can force them to spy on customers.”

There has already been discontent among users of Yahoo!’s major search partners DuckDuckGo and Firefox, and recently DuckDuckGo removed references to its partnership with Yahoo!.

Source : itwire

Trump’s miserable economic plan is counterproductive for communities that need help more than ever

Donald J. Trump supporters claim to like someone who “tells it like it is.” OK, then let’s try this: Trump is going to lose in a landslide and he’s going to do lasting harm to your economic prospects in the process.

Look, I understand many of you don’t see the future as very bright. But Trump is only looking to make things worse — and while it may feel good to rage against the establishment and vote for chaos over the status quo, the fact remains that Trump’s ideas are very dangerous for many of you already living hand to mouth.

This is a website about finance and the markets so let’s not bother to relitigateTrump’s “Access Hollywood” tape, his open feud with other Republicans or thelatest scandal du jour. Instead, let’s simply focus on the fundamental truths of Trump’s miserable economic plan and how it is counterproductive for communities that need help more than ever.

Protectionism is painful: In every sense, closing our borders economically is a sure way to kill jobs and drive up costs. A host of independent reports estimate that retaliatory tariffs and trade wars with partners like China and Mexico would cost millions of jobs — 4 million jobs according to investment firm Moody’s, or 5 million jobs according to the Peterson Institute. Also, forecasting firm Oxford Economics estimates Trump’s anti-trade policies would sap $1 trillion from economic activity over the next five years. And let’s not forget that those tariffs on foreign goods would also hit consumers who are lucky enough to keep their jobs;one study estimates consumer goods would cost a typical American household an extra $11,000 over the next five years. Globalization has some costs, yes… but protectionism is even more costly in this interconnected global economy.

Hometown hubris: Of course, thinking globally is not a strength of Trump voters.A poll by PRRI and The Atlantic found 40% of Donald Trump supporters still live in their hometown. And while hometown pride is generally an admirable thing, it’s important to also be realistic about your community’s struggles. A feature in the New York Times this summer illustrates this in a powerful way, where younger residents of Monessen, Pa., “are frustrated that the older generation still dreams of factories.” That kind of false hope will only lead to more frustration and more clutching at the past at the expense of meeting the future.

Robots took your jobs, not China: The biggest way Trump has created false hope in small towns across America is duping them into thinking that he can simply turn back time 60 or 70 years. The reality of the global economy in the 21st century is that services matter more than manufacturing now thatautomation has eliminated many old assembly-line jobs. Consider that in China, a nation Trump likes to blame often for stealing our jobs, the same trend is now playing out there — including the loss of 60,000 jobs at a single factory because of robot-based manufacturing! Demanding more old-school manufacturing jobs to akin to wishing for more milkmen or anvil salesmen. 

Service jobs matter most:The reality is that the American economy in the 21st century is a service economy. Consider that in 2014 the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 21.8 million “goods producing” jobs that include manufacturing, mining and construction. Meanwhile, the U.S. boasted 120 million “services-providing” jobs including health care, education, hospitality and retail. Why not focus on supporting those kind of jobs, or retraining and vocational education aligned with these industries? Or if you scoff at service jobs as low-paying dead ends, why not support a higher minimum wage? The romanticism of manufacturing and a failure to think seriously about our service-driven economy only ensures you’ll continue to be left behind.

You need the government: In deeply red states like Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas or Alabama, it’s fashionable to maligning policy makers for wasting your tax dollars even as citizens rely on the government’s help to avoid financial catastrophe. These four states have the highest percentage of working-age adults on disability – with over 8% of the working age population in each of those four regions. And heck, one report estimates that over 30% of Mississippi’s GDP comes from programs like disability, Social Security and other taxpayer-funded assistance! Voters here seem to think they are serving their home states by advocating lower taxes and less government spending… but be careful what you wish for, because next time you just might get it.

You can’t turn back the clock: The rise of automation and the evolution of the American economy are just two points that prove we can’t go back to the old ways of doing things — even if we wanted to. We can’t go back to defined-benefit pension plans. We can’t practically deport 11 million illegal immigrants, even if we wanted to. We can’t unlearn what we know as fact about global warming and that natural gas burns cleaner than coal. If your only plan for the future is to live in the past, you are in big trouble.

Stubbornness won’t serve you: The hardest truth of all is that Trump supporters, like the Donald himself, never back down from a fight. But after you lose this election you’ll have to figure out a way to work with Democrats, including President Clinton and Congress, as well as the anti-Trump Republicans who walked away from your candidate. I suppose perpetual obstructionism like we saw across the Obama presidency is an option, but do you want to continue to see a swath of executive orders to work around your intransigence? After all, the key message of Trump’s campaign is that America is a hellscape, from the“rotting” Midwestern rust belt to the “war zone” of inner cities. If you really believe that, you can’t afford another four years of sour grapes and conspiracy theories.

Source : marketwatch

A practical local SEO guide for business owners. 

Have you ever used Google to find something nearby? Like searching for “sushi”, “locksmith” or “nightclub”? If your business has a physical address such as a storefront, you should consider using local SEO to get new customers.

Local SEO helps you get customers using a location keyword in their search (such as “Irving Park Plumber”) or who simply search from a device with geolocation enabled, such as a smart phone. Local SEO also helps you to rank higher on Google Maps pages.

For example, The Art Studio NY, the top-rated painting school in New York, ranks #1 for local search term “painting classes nyc”:

painting-classes-google-search

The local listing of The Art Studio NY includes NAP (name, address, phone number), Google Map, Google Reviews, hours of operation, website, and directions. This local listing format is very helpful in driving business.

So how can we achieve good local search rankings?

According to Moz.com, the major local search ranking factors are:

moz-search-ranking-factors

According to Moz, on-page signals such as NAP (name, address, phone), optimized meta tags and titles, and domain authority are the most important ranking factors (20.3%) for local SEO.

Here are a few best practices for local SEO:

#1: Verify your Google My Business listing

Google My Business connects your business with customers. Go to Google My Business and claim your Google My Business page, If you haven’t already. Google will send a verification code to your address, and you simply enter that code into Google My Business.

The verification process may take 1-2 weeks.

Once you’ve verified your account, make sure that your NAP (name, address, phone) is correct, choose the right categories for your business, and provide a unique, engaging description. Upload some high-res images, add your hours of operation, and most importantly, ask your customers to write reviews for your business.

Google will display your local business information on the right column as below:

google-my-business

 

#2: Use consistent contact information across your online profiles

Make sure the business name, address, and phone number of each of your staffed locations (aka NAP – Name, Address, Phone) is consistent throughout the site (homepage, contact us page, footer, etc) and on other websites like Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook.

For example, beauty school The Beauty Institute – Allentown location, NAP is set consistent on multiple places (http://allentown.thebeautyinstituteskp.edu/)

Sitewide header (add address and Zip code to the header):

site-wide-header

 Homepage map:

homepage-map

 Sitewide footer:

sitewide-footer

 

#3: Embed a Google Map in your website

Embed a Google Map on your website. You can use the map on Contact page or Footer section. But do not just embed a map that points to your address. You should points to your actual Google Plus local listing.embed-a-map

#4: Include Geo tag to show your location to search engines

Include geo tags if your business is location specific. These tags can be generated via many online tools such as http://www.geo-tag.de/generator/en.html, and is placed on every page of the website. They let the search engines know where you’re based and improve your rankings for local search terms.

<meta name=”geo.position” content=”latitude; longitude”>


<meta name=”geo.placename” content=”Place Name”>


<meta name=”geo.region” content=”Country Subdivision Code”>

#5: Apply business-related rich snippets

You can add schema markups for NAP (name, address, phone), geo coordinates (read more here), and specific business-related snippets, like event snippet, school snippets, and more.

These rich snippets help search engines understand your site content better, and show your local listings to more relevant local searches.

You can look up the schema format at https://schema.org/docs/schemas.html. The schema generator http://www.microdatagenerator.com/ is helpful to quickly generate schema.

To verify the schema and rich snippets are correctly applied, check with Google Testing Tool:https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool.

For painting school The Art Studio NY, the relevant snippets include:

Local Business snippet: (school name, phone, location, hours of operation).business-snippet

 School SnippetShow information about the school.

school-snippet

Event Snippets: Display class schedule. Each event/class will be displayed on SERP (search engine result page) as below:

event-snippet

Person snippet: This snippet is applied for instructor page, to display instructor information

person-snippet

#6: Optimize meta tags and page content for local keywords

Meta title & description tag: Include your city and state in your title tag and your meta descriptiontag. This can boost clickthrough rates for local search results.

<title>New York Art Studio – Art Studio NYC – The Art Studio NY</title>

<meta name=”description” content=”The Art Studio NY provides a variety of art classes and event planning services. From New York art camps to bachelorette parties, we cater all needs.” />

Heading tag: You should include your city in your heading H1 tag.

For example: http://allentown.thebeautyinstituteskp.edu/

heading-tag

Page content: It’s also important, but often overlooked, to include your location within your page’s content. Make sure your website shows your location in as many places as it makes sense.

Logo: The logo of your site should be optimized with local keywords.

For example: With The Beauty Institute, the logo of the main site and logos of each campus site are optimized:

  • Edited logo file name to add local keyword
  • Edited alt tag of logo to add local keyword

<img src=”http://thebeautyinstituteskp.edu/wp-content/themes/toniandguy/images/logo.png” alt=”Beauty School | Cosmetology School | The Beauty Institute – Schwarzkopf Professional”>

inspect-element

Image Alt tags: Your alt text (the text that describes your images) should also include your city.

<img class=”alignnone wp-image-2157″ src=”http://tghairacademy.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/banner2.jpg” alt=”The Beauty Institute | Schwarzkopf Professional – Top beauty school in Pennsylvania” width=”100%” />

#7: Create separate web page for each location

If your business has multiple locations, it’s almost always better to build separate location pages with strong content for each location. For example, The Beauty Institute uses multi-site WordPress to create separate subdomains for each of its schools in different locations: Ambler, Philly, Allentown, and Stroudsburg.

It is important to make content in each location unique, instead of using the same content template and only replace location data. Here are a few ideas to make local content unique:

  • Adding testimonials from customers from each city you service.
  • Differentiate what you do in one location vs. another. Offer city-specific, service-specific, or product-specific specials, schedules, and calendars.
  • Participate in local events, or sponsor local events, and write about those local events to create unique content.
  • Interview experts inside or outside of your company to get city-specific or product-specific content.
  • Build an location-based blog for each location to keep your content fresh. Include your city in the alt tags for images and videos, and consider writing out transcriptions.

#8: Submit your site to local directories to build citations

A citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP). Local directories are a useful resource for building citations. These citations are valuable even if they aren’t linked, as long as they’re displaying your NAP consistently.

For multi-location or multi-practitioner businesses, point the link on all citations to the correct corresponding landing page on your website. For example, you should point all Philadelphia citations to your Philadelphia landing page on your site.

You can use tools such as Bright Local or Yext to find any existing citations you have, and then update them all at once to make them consistent. You can also use the tool to check out your competitors’ citations.

Bright Local citation tracker for The Art Studio NY:

citation-check

Also, remember to set up alerts through social listening tools like Mention or Google Alerts to track new mentions of your competitors’ NAP listings.

#9: Ask your customers to write (a lot of) reviews

Customer reviews, especially from credible sources like Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook, have the solid impact on Google local rankings. Just don’t try to get too many reviews at once, because Google might found your activities suspicious.

#10: Put locations in Social Media profiles

Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest are the most popular social media sites you should appear to promote your local business. Always include your contact information where you can, and make sure the contact information are consistent with your website. (Twitter doesn’t allow addresses or phone numbers, though).

Active social channels could be a strong local ranking factors, and indicating you have a credible and healthy business.

Summary

People are searching for lawyers, schools, restaurants and local shops online, especially via mobile devices. If you run a local business, let’s follow the above tactics to optimize your website for local search, and earn your share of new business! 

 Source : searchenginewatch

Dive Brief

  • Google has updated four-year-old Penguin, which penalizes sites involved in artificially boosting search rankings via poor-quality links, and made it a part of the search engine's core algorithm, the company said in a blog post
  • The key changes, which are among the top requests from website developers, include making Penguin real-time, meaning any changes in rankings will be visible more quickly.
  • Penguin is also more granular, adjusting rankings based on spam signals rather than affecting the ranking of the entire site.

Dive Insight:

As the leading search engine, one of Google’s goals is to ensure strong user experiences. Penguin, which was first introduced in 2012 and last updated in 2014, is the company’s way of weeding out site pages filled with links to unrelated content in an attempt to boost search rankings.

While paid search is Google’s biggest source of revenue, search engine optimization, which Penguin addresses, is important for brands and marketers. With content marketing gaining steam as more consumers spend time online researching and reading about topics of interest, a strong SEO strategy is one of the ways that marketers can drive success for these programs.

Over the past few years, Google has been testing and developing Penguin and now feels it is ready to be part of its core algorithm. In the past, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed. As a result, when sites were improved with an eye toward removing bad links, website developers had to wait until the next refresh before any changes were taken into account by Google’s web crawlers.

Source : http://www.marketingdive.com/

In part two of a three-part series on app indexing, contributors Emily Grossman and Cindy Krum explore how Google indexes deep app content and explains what marketers can do to promote their app content in Google search.

In this article, you’ll learn how Google is surfacing deep app content and how SEOs can prepare iOS and Android deep app screens for Google’s index. Google is making significant moves to close the gap between app and Web content to make mobile interaction more seamless, and that theme will reappear throughout the analysis.

This is the second installment in a three-part series about app indexing strategies and deep linking opportunities. The first article focused on Apple’s new Search API for iOS 9, which encourages and incentivizes an app-centric mobile experience.

Today’s column, co-authored with Cindy Krum, will focus on how Google indexes deep app screens and what marketers can do to promote their app content in Google search. Google’s app indexing strategies differ significantly from Apple’s, and it’s important for marketers to understand the distinctions.

The third article in this series will focus on future app indexing challenges we will face with the growth of wearables and other non-standard device apps and device indexes.

App Indexing In Google

Historically, app landing pages on websites have been in the Google index — but actual apps andinternal app screens have not. Because crawling and indexing in-app content was impossible untilrecently, users had to discover new apps via an app store (Google Play or iTunes), which surfaces apps according to app meta data and editorial groupings instead of in-app content. For digital marketers, internal app content has been unavailable for search — part of what Marshall Simmonds calls “dark search.”

This situation has created a two-fold problem for Google:

  1. App stores had trained users away from using Google for app discovery; and
  2. App developers were historically not incentivized to optimize internal app data for search. This limited Google’s mission to collect and organize the world’s data, which in turn limited its ability to make money.

Now that Google is indexing both app landing pages and deep screens in apps, Google’s app rankings fall into two basic categories, App Packs and App Deep Links. App Packs are much more like the app search results that SEOs are used to, because they link to app download pages in Google Play or the App Store, depending on the device that you are searching from. (App Packs will only show apps that are compatible with your device’s OS.)

Ranking in an App Pack (and also in the Apps Universal, under Google’s top-navigation drop-down in the mobile search results) relies heavily on the app title, description, star ratings and reviews, and it will differ greatly from the internal app store rankings, as well as in-app indexing strategies described in the rest of this article.

Deep links are different because they link to specific deep screens within an app. Google has displayed deep links in search results in a variety of ways since it started app indexing, but there are a couple of standard deep link displays (shown below) that seem more common than others. Some deep-linked results look no different from traditional blue links for websites, while other deep link search results contain more attractive visual elements like colored “install” buttons, app icons and star ratings.

google-deep-link-types-serps.jpg

We believe that the most common deep link in the future will display the app icon and a small “open on domain.com” button because that allows users to choose between the deep app link and the Web link without an additional dialogue screen. (Currently, the dialogue screen from other types of deep links comes from the bottom of the browser window and says, “Would you like to open this in Chrome or in the [Brand Name] app?”)

It is important to note that aspects of the search context, like the mobile browser, can limit the visibility of deep links. For example, Google only supports app indexing on iOS inside the Google and Chrome apps, not in Mobile Safari, the default Web browser on iOS. It seems likely that Safari will be updated to allow for Google’s deep linking behaviors as part of the iOS 9 update, but it is not confirmed.

Similarly, Google has been experimenting with a “Basic” mobile search results view that omits rich content for searchers with slow carrier connections. “Basic” search results do not include App Packs at all (since downloading an app would not be attractive to people with slow connections), and deep link results will only show as inline blue links, without images, star ratings, icons or buttons.

These are important stipulations to keep in mind as we allocate time and budget to optimizing app indexing, but the benefits of Google app indexing are not limited to surfacing deep app screens in Google search results.

Why Is App Indexing Important For SEO?

Without apps in its index, Google was missing a huge piece of the world’s data. The new ability to index iOS and Android apps has fundamentally changed app discovery and dramatically changed mobile SEO strategies.

Now that Google’s search engine can process and surface deep app content in a similar fashion to the way it does Web content, Google search has a significant advantage over the app stores. It is still the #1 Search Engine in the world, so it can easily expose content to more potential customers than any app store could, but it can also integrate this new app content with other Google properties like Google Now, Inbox/Gmail and Google Maps.

This change has also added a whole new host of competitors to the mobile search result pages. Now, not only can app landing pages rank, but internal app screens can also compete for the same rankings.

Google’s official position at the moment is that Web parity is necessary for deep app indexing (i.e., crawlable Web content that matched the indexable app content), but at Google I/O, the company clarified that they are working on a non-parity app indexing solution. They have even started promoting an “app only interest form,” and recent live testing has reinforced the idea that apps without parity will soon be added to the index (if they haven’t been already).5457989_app-indexing--the-new-frontier-of-seo_tf23002f4.jpg

This is a big deal, so SEOs should be wary of underestimating the potential market implications of Google indexing apps without Web parity. For marketers and SEOs, it means that mobile search results could soon be flooded with new and attractive competition on a massive scale — content that they never have had to compete with before.

Let’s do a bit of math to really understand the implications.

We’ll start with a broad assumption that there are roughly 24,000 travel apps, a third of which lack Web parity. If each app contains an average of just 1,000 screens (and travel apps often include many more than that), we’re looking at roughly 8,000,000 new search results with which travel websites must compete — and that’s in the travel industry alone. That is huge!

Games, the biggest app category in both stores, promises to create an even bigger disruption in mobile search results, as it is a category that has a very high instance of apps without Web parity.

Another subtle indication of the importance of app indexing is the name change from “Google Webmaster Tools” to “Google Search Console.” Historically, webmasters and SEOs have used Google Webmaster Tools to manage and submit website URLs to Google’s index. We believe the renamed Google Search Console will eventually do the same things for both Web and apps (and possibly absorb the Google Play Console, where Android apps have been managed). In light of that, removing the “Web” reference from the old “Webmaster Tools” name makes a lot of sense.

A similar sentiment by John Mueller, from Google, is noted below, and possibly hints at the larger plan:

John-Mueller-on-Google-Plus.jpg

How Does Google Rank Deep Links?

Like everything else, Google has an algorithm to determine how an indexed deep link should rank in search results. As usual, much about Google’s ranking algorithm is unknown, but we’ve pieced together some of the signals they have announced and inferred a few others. Here’s what we currently believe to be true about how Google is ranking deep links in Google Search:

Known Positive Ranking Factors

  • Installation Status. Android apps are more prominently featured in Google search results when they are installed on a user’s device or have been in the past. Rather than checking the device, Google keeps track of app downloads in their cloud-based user history, so this only affects searchers when they are signed into Google.
  • Proper Technical Implementation. The best way app publishers can drive rankings,according to Mariya Moeva of Google, is to “ensure that the technical implementation of App Indexing is correct and that your content is worth it.” She later elaborated in a YouTube video, explaining that app screens with technical implementation errors will not be indexed at all. (So start befriending the app development team!)
  • Website Signals (title tags, description tags). Traditional SEO elements in the <head> tag of the associated Web page will display in deep link search results, and thus are also likely ranking factors for the deep links. In fact, good SEO on corresponding Web pages is critical, since Google considers the desktop Web version of the page as the canonical indexing of the content.

Known Negative Ranking Factors

  • Content Mismatch. Google will not index app screens that claim to correspond with a Web page but don’t provide enough of the same information. Google will report these “mismatch errors” in Google Search Console, so you can determine which screens need to be better aligned with their corresponding Web pages.
  • Interstitials. Interstitials are JavaScript banners that appear over the content of a website, similar to pop-ups but without generating a new browser window. The same experience can be included in apps (most often for advertisements), but this has been discouraged by both Apple and Google. In her recent Q&A with Stone Temple Consulting, Mariya Moeva implied that app interstitials are a negative ranking factor for deep links (and said to stay tuned for more information soon). Interstitials can also prevent Google from matching your app screen content to your Web page content, which could cause “Content Mismatch Errors” that prevent Google from indexing the app screen entirely. In either case, app and Web developers should stay away from interstitials and instead, opt for banners that just move content down on the screen. Both Apple and Google have endorsed their own form of app install banners and even offer app banner code templates that can be used to promote a particular app from the corresponding mobile website.

Apart from ranking on their own, app deep links can also provide an SEO benefit for websites. Google has said that indexed app deep links are a positive ranking factor for their associated Web pages, and preliminary studies have shown that Web pages can expect an average site-wide lift of .29 positions when deep link markup is in place.

Also, App Packs and App Carousels tend to float to the top of a mobile SERP (likely ranking as a group rather than ranking independently). Presence in these results increases exposure and eliminates a position that a competitor could occupy lower down in the organic rankings, since these “Packs” and “Carousels” take up spaces that would be previously held by websites.

Indexed Android apps will also get added exposure in the next release of the Android operating system, Android M. It includes a feature called “Now on Tap,” which represents a deeper integration of Google Now with the rest of the Android phone functionality. Android M allows Google to scan text on an Android user’s screen while in any app, then interpret a “context” from the on-screen text, infer potential queries and automatically display mobile applications that could assist the user with those inferred queries.

For example, a WhatsApp conversation about dinner plans could pull up a “Now on Tap” interface that suggests deep links to specific screens in OpenTable, Google Maps and Yelp. This only works for deep-linked app screens in Google’s index, but for those apps, it will likely drive significantly higher engagement and potentially more installs. From a strategic perspective, this adds another potential location to surface your content, beyond the mobile search results.

While Google will only surface apps they have indexed, they plan on crawling on-screen text inall apps, trying to perceive context for “Now on Tap.” Google doesn’t provide any opt-in mechanism, so Android apps that are not indexed for Google search can still be crawled to trigger a “Now on Tap” experience. This means that Google is essentially reserving the right to send users away from your app to a different app that has relevant screens in the index, but also that Google is allowing your app to “steal” users away from other apps if your app screens are in the index.

This could provide nearly limitless opportunities for “Now on Tap” to suggest apps to Android users, and the “rogue crawling” aspect of it reinforces our prediction that Google will soon be crawling, indexing and surfacing app screens that don’t have Web parity. This will make Google’s app indexing an even more important strategy for Android apps, especially once Android M is widely adopted.

The app rankings advantage is pushed to the next level when you understand that Google is intentionally giving preference to app results for certain queries. In some cases, being an indexed app may be the only way to rank at the top in mobile Google search. Keywords like “games” and “editor” are a common trigger for App Packs and App Carousels, but Google is also prominently surfacing apps for queries that seem to be associated with utilities or verbs (e.g., “flight tracker,” “restaurant finder,” or “watch tv”). And when the App Packs or Carousels appear, they often push the blue links below the fold (and sometimes way below the fold).

At the end of the day, for some queries, a blue link may not ever beat the “Packs” — in which case, the best strategy may be to focus on App Pack listings over deep links.

How Can I Get Deep App Screens Indexed For Google Search?

Setting up app indexing for Android and iOS Apps is pretty straightforward and well-documented by Google. Conceptually, it is a three-part process:

  1. Enable your app to handle deep links.
  2. Add code to your corresponding Web pages that references deep links.
  3. Optimize for private indexing.

These steps can be taken out of order if the app is still in development, but the second step iscrucial; without it, your app will be set up with deep links but will not be set up for Google indexing, so the deep links will not show up in Google Search.

NOTE: iOS app indexing is still in limited release with Google, so there is a special form submission and approval process even after you have added all the technical elements to your iOS app. That being said, the technical implementations take some time. By the time your company has finished, Google may have opened up indexing to all iOS apps, and this cumbersome approval process may be a thing of the past.

Following are the steps for Google deep-link indexing. (For a PDF version of the instructions, click here.)

Step 1: Add Code To Your App That Establishes The Deep Links

A. Pick A URL Scheme To Use When Referencing Deep Screens In Your App

App URL schemes are simply a systematic way to reference the deep linked screens within an app, much like a Web URL references a specific page on a website.

In iOS, developers are currently limited to using Custom URL Schemes, which are formatted in a way that is more natural for app design but different from Web.

In Android, you can choose from either HTTP URL schemes (which look almost exactly like Web URLs) or Custom URL Schemes, or you can use both. If you have a choice and can only support one type of URL Scheme on Android, choose HTTP.

app-URL-scheme-deep-links-800x247

B. Support That App’s URL Schemes In The App

Since iOS and Android apps are built in different frameworks, different code must be added to the app to enable the deep link URL Schemes to work within the specific framework.

support-app-URL-schemes-800x438

C. Set Up CocoaPods

CocoaPods is a dependency management tool for iOS. It acts as a translation layer between iOS apps and the Google SDKs, so it is only necessary in iOS apps. Google has moved all its libraries to CocoaPods, and this will now be the only supported way to source them in an iOS app.

set-up-cocoapods-800x139

NOTE: Developers who have never worked with CocoaPods may have to rework how they currently handle all dependent libraries in the app, because once CocoaPods is installed, it is harder and more complicated to handle other non-CocoaPods libraries. There are some iOS developers who favor CocoaPods and have been using them for some time, so your app may already be working with CocoaPods. If that’s true, prepping for iOS app indexing will be much easier.

D. Enable The Back Bar

iOS devices don’t come equipped with a hardware or persistent software “back” button, so Apple and Google have built workarounds to make inter-app back navigation easier. Google requires that iOS apps recognize an additional GSD Custom URL Scheme (that was set up in Step 1B). Google only uses this to trigger a “back” bar in the iOS app.

Google will generate the GSD Custom URLs automatically when someone clicks on an iOS deep link from a search result page, so we don’t need to generate new GSD deep links for every screen; we just need to support the format in the Info.plist file and add code that will communicate with the “GoogleAppIndexing” Pod when a GSD link is received by the app.

enable-back-bar

NOTE: Google’s solution is similar to Apple’s iOS 9 “Back to Search” buttons that display in the upper left portion of the phone’s Status Bar, but when it is triggered, it appears as a blue “Back Bar” that hovers over the entire phone Status Bar. The Back Bar will disappear after a short period of time if the user does not tap on it. This “disappearing” behavior also represents a unique experience for iOS deep linking in Google, since after a certain period of time, there won’t be a way for iOS users to get back to the Google Search results without switching apps manually, by clicking through the home screen. Developers compensate by adopting more tactics that pull users deeper into the app, eat up time, and distract the user from going back to Google Search until the bar disappears.

E. Set Up Robots & Google Play/Google Search Consoles

In some cases, it may make sense to generate deep links for an app screen but prevent it from showing up in search results. In Android, Google allows us to provide instructions about which screens we would like indexed for search and which we would not, but no similar mechanism is available for iOS.

Digital marketers and SEOs should use the Google Play Console and the Google Search Console to help connect your app to your website and manage app indexation. Also, double check that your website’s robots.txt file allows access to Googlebot, since it will be looking for the Web aspect of the deep links in its normal crawls.

set-up-robots-google-play

Step 2: Add Code To Your Website That References The URL Schemes You Set Up In The App

A. Format & Validate Web Deep Links For The Appropriate App Store

Google’s current app indexing process relies on Googlebot to discover and index deep links from a website crawl. Code must be added to each Web page that references a corresponding app screen.

When marking up your website, a special deep link format must be used to encode the app screen URL, along with all of the other information Google needs to open a deep link in your app. The required formatting varies slightly for Android and iOS apps and is slightly different from the URL Schemes used in the app code, but they do have some elements in common.

The {scheme} part of the link always refers to the URL scheme set up in your app in Step 1, and the {host_path} is the part of the deep link that identifies the specific app screen being referenced, like the tail of a URL. Other elements vary, as shown below:

validate-web-deep-link

B. Add Web Deep Links To Web Pages With Corresponding App Screens

Internal app screens can be indexed when Googlebot finds deep app links in any of the following locations on your website:

  • In a rel=”alternate” in the HTML <head>
  • In a rel=”alternate” in the XML sitemap
  • In Schema.org ViewAction markup

Sample code formatting for each of those indexing options is included below:

rel-sample-code

xml-sitemap-sample-code-800x416

schema-sample-code-800x355

Step 3: Optimize For Private Indexing

Both Google and Apple have a “Private” indexing feature that allows individual user behaviors to be associated with specific screens in an app. App activity that is specific to one user can be indexed on that users’ phone, for private consumption only (e.g., a WhatsApp message you’ve viewed or an email you’ve opened in Mailbox).

Activities that are Privately indexed do not generate deep links that can surface in a public Google search result, but instead generate deep links that surface in other search contexts. For Android apps, this is in Chrome’s autocomplete and Google Now; for iOS, this is in Spotlight, Siri, or Safari’s Spotlight Suggest results.

optimize-private-indexing-800x294

NOTE: Google’s documentation seems to indicate that Activities are only used for private indexing, but Google may also use them as a measurement of engagement for more global evaluations of an app (as Apple does with NSUserActivities in Apple Search). Google has not highlighted their private indexing feature as vocally as Apple, and a user’s private index can be accessed from the Phone icon in the bottom navigation of the Google Now app on Android and iOS. Currently, only Google’s apps (like Gmail) are able to surface privately indexed content in organic Google search results, but we suspect this will be opened up to third-party apps in the future.

Concluding Remarks

App indexing and deep linking are changing the digital marketing landscape and dramatically altering the makeup of organic mobile search results. They are emerging from the world of “dark search” and becoming a force to be reckoned with in SEO.

Marketers and SEOs can either look at these changes as a threat — another hurdle to overcome — or a new opportunity to get a leg up over the competition. Those who wish to stay on the cutting edge of digital marketing will take heed and learn how to optimize non-HTML content like apps in all of the formats and locations where they surface.

That being said, relying on app deep links alone to drive Google search engine traffic is still not an option. Traditional SEO and mobile SEO are still hugely important for securing a presence in Google’s mobile searches. Google still considers desktop websites the ultimate canonical for keyword crawling and indexing, and the search engine relies heavily on website parity because its strength is still crawling and indexing Web content.

The next big app indexing questions are all about apps that lack Web parity. Google does not currently use a roaming app crawler to discover deep links themselves, but we feel confident that this will change. Google’s App Indexing API currently only helps surface Android apps in autocomplete, but we believe in the future, it will help surface apps that don’t have Web parity.

Calling the system an “App Indexing API” seems to allude to a richer functionality than just adding app auto-complete functionality — and Google’s original app indexing documentation from April also indicated a more robust plan.

As shown in the diagram below, the original documentation explained that developers could use the App Indexing API (also referred to here as “Search Suggest,” which is different from the Search Suggest API) to notify Google of deep links “with or without corresponding Web pages.” That line has since been removed from the documentation, but the implication is clear: Google is paving the way for indexing apps without Web parity. Until that happens, traditional website optimization will remain a key component of optimizing app content for Google search, but when app screens can be indexed without Web parity, there will be a whole new set of ranking factors to consider and optimize for.

App-Indexing-Documentation-800x369

As we charge into this new frontier, the immediate benefits of app indexing are clear, but the newness may require a small leap of faith for more traditional marketers and SEOs.

Some may be left suspicious, with many questions: How long will Google provide a ranking benefit for deep-linked content? Will this be perceived as a “bait and switch,” like the Mobile Friendly update? Will app ranking factors evolve to include more traditional Web page ranking factors (like links and social signals)? Will Google begin to crawl app content more indiscriminately, using deep app links like Web links? Will Google develop a new app-specific crawler, or was the algorithm change on April 21 (aka “Mobilegeddon“) really this — that apps are already being crawled, rendered and evaluated by the smartphone crawler, just the same as Web?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source : http://searchengineland.com/

Don’t have a pair of Google Glass? Been waiting for sunglasses with a camera in them? Look no further than Snapchat- or rather, Snap Inc., (more on the name change later).

The new glasses, named Spectacles, are sunglasses with an integrated video camera.

According to Snap Inc., the company has created one of the smallest wireless video cameras in the world, capable of taking a day’s worth of Snaps on a single charge.

Spectacles work by connecting directly to Snapchat via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and transferring users’ images and video directly into the app in a brand new circular video format.

Circular video plays full screen on any device, in any orientation, and is said to capture the human perspective with a 115-degree field of view.

Running around $130USD, the sunglasses/camera come in 3 different colors, and according to the company, they will go on sale via a limited supply sometime this fall. Stay tuned.


snapchat.jpeg

So, what about the name change? It’s something that happened back on September 24th 2016..

On this day, Snapchat announced that it was formerly changing its name to Snap Inc.

According to a release put out on their blog, Snapchat no longer has just one product- Snapchats- but others, including this new product, Spectacles, necessitating the name change.

Snap Inc., a Los Angeles company, is valued at US$18 billion and is said be changing its name in reflection of its “larger ambitions”.

Source : http://www.digitalhome.ca/

SEO is important—there’s no question about that, it’s simply a fact of life if you’re doing business online.  Active promotion is all well and good, but you also need qualified traffic coming in from the search engines to leverage your website as the investment it is.

But SEO isn’t something you can just do once and then sit back.  Optimizing your website is a never-ending process, and for it to work to its full potential you need something to optimize: content.

Content is more than just words for Google to find on your site.  It’s a critical part of the equation for effective SEO, a part you can best take advantage of by posting plenty of fresh, high-quality content on a regular basis.

Why does that make such a difference?

Consistent, fresh content means frequent indexing

Google—along with the other search engines—uses programs called web crawlers to find and index websites based on a variety of factors, such as incoming links, information about keywords on the site, and how often the site is updated.  When you make a change to your site, the search engines notice and re-index it.

Of course, getting indexed frequently doesn’t automatically mean getting higher search rankings.  But the more often you make significant updates, the more often search engines will check your website for quality signals and adjust your rank accordingly.  That gives you more frequent opportunities to improve your rankings with fresh, high-quality content.

Part of the key is being consistent with how often you add content.  One of the best ways to ensure that you stay on top of things is with a content marketing calendar.  It’ll help you maintain focus on your content publishing goals and stay consistent.

Google uses frequent, significant updates as a quality signal

Google is the most popular search engine, and as such it makes sense to keep an eye on what factors it tends to rank highly.  Google appears to incentivize frequent updates, so you should add fresh content to your site as often as possible.

That doesn’t mean making changes just for the sake of making changes, though.  Nor does it mean updating numerous times per day—one significant update per day or at least two or three per week will be enough to be considered frequently updated.  

You don’t have to completely overhaul the site, either.  Smaller changes like adding an article, an image, or updated copy will get Google’s attention just fine—and as long as the new information is always reliable and valuable, you have a good chance of getting a higher search ranking.

Adding a blog to your site and posting articles your viewers will notice and appreciate is an easy and effective way to stay fresh.  User comments on the articles will also count as an update, though a smaller one, so make them interesting and do your best to start a discussion.

The more content you have, the more keywords you can rank for

Every piece of content you publish doesn’t just give you a new page for the search engines to index.  It also gives you an opportunity for your site to rank for more keywords.  The more content you have, the broader range of keywords you can target and the more effectively you can optimize your site for the ones that are most relevant.

Don’t think you can just cram your site full of keywords, though—Google doesn’t care much about how many keywords a given page has, especially if it’s low-quality.  You need to focus on quality content that helps your readers in some way, and organically includes your keyword a couple of times—not mediocre content that’s heavily keyword-focused.

That might leave you in a tough spot: you need enough content to fill a regular publishing schedule, but it all has to be high-quality.  Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to help you get what you need.

  • BuzzSumo - Easily find the top-performing content for your chosen keyword or niche, to give you ideas for what kind of content to create
  • Grammarly - If you decide to create content yourself, this online proofreading tool can help you make sure the text is free of confusing grammar and spelling errors
  • Smart Paper Help - If writing isn’t your strong suit, outsource the content creation—as well as proofreading and editing, if you need it
  • Hemingway App - This free web app will help you get your message across in the clearest possible language so that it can reach the most people

 

Fresh content helps keep your audience engaged

The point of all this content—besides improving your SEO rankings, of course—is to provide value to people and show them how your brand can help them get what they want or need.  Solid, high-quality articles and pages will effectively communicate your brand’s message to your audience and keep them interested in what you have to offer.

Updating regularly gives you the chance to keep your audience up to date on what’s going on with your business, such as events, promotions, and new products.  Fresh content also helps new visitors see that your business is active, rather than old and out of date.

Keeping it fresh, interesting, and above all useful, means you’re giving the audience something worthwhile, and when they know they can get value from you, they’ll spend more time on your site.  That not only gives you more opportunities to turn readers into customers, it also lowers your site’s bounce rate—another factor search engines consider in page rankings.

High-quality content encourages sharing

Finally, with the decline in the SEO value of building backlinks from numerous websites (at least, websites with low authority), social media sharing has become one of the most effective and reliable ways to build your site’s relevance and authority in the eyes of the search engines.  And no one is going to share low-quality content.

Frequently posting great articles ensures that you’ll always have something new for your site’s visitors to read, learn from, and share with their friends.  That, in turn, will bring in qualified leads who are already interested what you have to offer, giving you new opportunities to impress people with your brand’s message—and consequently, increase your conversions.

Source : http://www.promotionworld.com/

While robots and computers will probably never completely replace doctors and nurses, machine learning/deep learning and AI are transforming the healthcare industry, improving outcomes, and changing the way doctors think about providing care.

Machine learning is improving diagnostics, predicting outcomes, and just beginning to scratch the surface of personalized care.

Imagine walking in to see your doctor with an ache or pain. After listening to your symptoms, she inputs them into her computer, which pulls up the latest research she might need to know about how to diagnose and treat your problem.  You have an MRI or an xray and a computer helps the radiologist detect any problems that could be too small for a human to see. Finally, a computer looks at your medical records and family history and compares that with the best and most recent research to suggest a treatment protocol to your doctor that is specifically tailored to your needs.

Industry analysts IDC predict that 30 percent of providers will use cognitive analytics with patient data by 2018.  It’s all starting to happen, and the implications are exciting.

Diagnosis

CBI insights identified 22 companies developing new programs for imaging and diagnostics. This is an especially promising field into which to introduce machine learning because computers and deep learning algorithms are getting more and more adept at recognizing patterns — which, in truth, is what much of diagnostics is about.

An IBM-backed group called Pathway Genomics is developing a simple blood test to determine if early detection or prediction of certain cancers is possible.

Lumiata has developed predictive analytics tools that can discover accurate insights and make predictions related to symptoms, diagnoses, procedures, and medications for individual patients or patient groups.

Treatment

IBM’s Watson has been tasked with helping oncologist make the best care decisions for their patients.  The Care Trio team has developed a three-pronged approach that helps doctors devise and understand the best care protocols for cancer patients.

The CareEdit tool helps teams create clinical practice guidelines that document the best course of treatment for different types of cancers. CareGuide uses the information from CareEdit into a “clinical decision support system” to help doctors choose the right treatment plan for an individual patient. And CareView is an analysis tool that can evaluate the outcome of past clinical decisions and identify patients who received different treatments than the recommendations. This kind of retrospective can help doctors refine their guidelines, closing the circle back to the CareEdit tool.

The team hopes that the Care Trio will improve clinical outcomes and increase survival rates for cancer patients while still reducing treatment costs for providers. The first version is currently being deployed at a large cancer treatment center in Italy.

In a completely different field, Ginger.io is developing an app to remotely deliver mental health treatments. The app allows people to analyze their own moods over time, learn coping strategies that have been developed by doctors, and access additional support as needed.

Follow up care

But the advances don’t stop with diagnosis or treatment.

One of the biggest hurdles in health care is hospital readmittance. Doctors around the world struggle with how to keep their patients healthy and following their treatment recommendations when they go home.

AiCure is using mobile technology and facial recognition technologies to determine if a patient is taking the right medications at the right time to help doctors confirm that the patient is taking their medications and alert them if something goes wrong.

NextIT is developing a digital health coach, similar to a virtual customer service rep on an ecommerce site. The assistant can prompt questions about the patient’s medications and remind them to take the medicine, ask them about symptoms, and convey that information to the doctor.

The Caféwell Concierge app uses IBM’s Watson’s natural language processing (NLP) to understand users health and wellness goals and then devise and provide the right balance of nudges and alerts so users can meet their targets and the app can reward them.

And this is just the beginning.  As these technologies develop, new and improved treatments and diagnoses will save more lives and cure more diseases. The future of medicine is based in data and analytics.

Source : http://www.forbes.com/

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