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Monthly Archives: November 2019

Pre-made calendar with over 300 holidays to help plan editorial content

November 3, 2019 No Comments

A carefully planned content marketing strategy contains several key ingredients including an understanding of who you’re creating content for (e.g., your persona or personas), how your content will help them, and some key performance indicators to measure success.

However, even the most thoughtful and well-planned content strategy can run into roadblocks without a detailed editorial plan. The editorial plan should include what categories and topics you plan to write about, how you intend to amplify your content (e.g., social media, email, etc.) and—the most important bit of all—a list of relevant, highly engaging ideas that incorporates a balance of evergreen and time-sensitive content.

Event-specific content can be challenging to create with any consistency, but with some planning and foresight, it is possible to plan out your editorial calendar in advance. One way to do this is to align some of your topics with seasonal holidays, observance days, and themes. 

holiday planner social media

[Image source]

A holiday for every week, month and season 

At CommonMind, we’ve compiled a holiday planner specifically aimed at social media content planning. It contains more than 300 holidays bucketed in three categories as follows:

  • 2019/2020 U.S. National Holidays: This calendar contains all the top favorites like Christmas, New Year’s Day and Tax Day (that last one is somebody’s favorite, I’m sure).
  • Educational Calendar/Events: This includes key dates such as Global Family Day and National Science Fiction Day which are observed globally. 
  • A Food-themed Calendar: Technically, these aren’t holidays, but they’re fun to observe and perfect for helping fill your editorial calendar, particularly if you are in the food and beverage industry (though this isn’t a requirement).

Since a long list of every conceivable holiday can seem a bit daunting to wrap your brain around, we’ve also created an embedded Google calendar that can be viewed in weekly or monthly increments or printed. 

holiday planner for social media example calendar

November 2019 Holiday Calendar – Source: CommonMind

Holiday planning isn’t just for retailers

When people think of the holiday season, it tends to mean the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s (although it’s been creeping up in the calendar to incorporate Halloween as well). But holiday content planning isn’t just for retailers or companies whose business ebbs and flows depending on the season. Here are a few examples of how some lesser-known holidays and observed days can inspire great content.

World Vegan Day (November 2, 2019): This is relevant to a variety of businesses in the health and wellness industry. Here are a few examples:

  • A nutritionist could write a piece about how to create a nutrient-rich vegan diet.
  • A healthcare provider could create a list of physical signs for vegans to be aware of that indicate they’re not getting enough of a specific vitamin or mineral.
  • A fitness expert (or gym) could write about how to ensure vegans have enough energy for various types of workouts.

World Kindness Day (November 13, 2019)

  • A marketing agency could write about an ad campaign or case study which features kindness as the main theme.
  • A veterinary clinic could write about how kindness helps both pets and their owners live happy, more fulfilling lives.
  • Any  number of businesses can write about kindness as their approach to doing business such as through employee wellness and medical programs, community service and involvement, or promoting an internal culture of kindness.

National Hot Cocoa Day (December 13, 2019)

  • This is a cocoa-manufacturer’s dream holiday and the perfect day to promote their cocoa products with a blog post as well as via social media.
  • Food-related organizations (coffee shops, restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, etc.) could create an event around this day (e.g., drop in for a free cup of cocoa!) and promote it via their blog and social media accounts.
  • Retailers can cash in on the height of shopping season by offering free cocoa in stores, coupons that fall on this day, and stories that humanize the company which can be featured on the blog (e.g., feature an employee cocoa-related story).

As you can see, becoming familiar with nonstandard holidays as well as observance days can help spur creative ideas for content that’s relevant to a variety of businesses and industries (you don’t have to sell cocoa to take advantage of National Hot Cocoa Day).

Our Google Holiday Calendar is a great way to familiarize yourself with upcoming holidays and can be imported into your own calendar for easy reference. Since this may be overwhelming, you can also peruse the long list of holidays to begin brainstorming and filling out your editorial calendar for the rest of 2019 and into 2020.

Happy content planning!

Jacqueline Dooley is Director of Digital Strategy for CommonMind.

The post Pre-made calendar with over 300 holidays to help plan editorial content appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Here’s What Happens When You Leave Weed Up Your Nose for 18 Years

November 3, 2019 No Comments

A man thought he had swallowed the balloon-wrapped marijuana he was smuggling. He hadn’t.
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Why website security affects SEO rankings (and what you can do about it)

November 3, 2019 No Comments

A few years ago I started a website and to my delight, the SEO efforts I was making to grow it were yielding results. However, one day I checked my rankings, and got the shock of my life. It had fallen, and badly.

I was doing my SEO right and I felt that was enough, but I didn’t know there was more. I hadn’t paid attention to my website security, and I didn’t even know that it mattered when it comes to Google and its ranking factors. Also, there were other security concerns I wasn’t paying attention to. As far as I was concerned back then, it didn’t matter since I had good content.

Obviously I was wrong, and I now know that if you really want to rank higher and increasing your site’s search traffic, then you need to understand that there is more to it than just building links and churning out more content. Understanding Google’s algorithm and it’s ranking factors are crucial.

Currently, Google has over 200 ranking factors they consider when they want to determine where to rank a site. And as expected, one of them is about how protected your site is. According to them, website security is a top priority, and they make a lot of investments all geared towards enduring that all their services, including Gmail and Google Drive, use top-notch security and other privacy tools by default all in a bid to make the internet a safer place generally. 

Unfortunately, I was uninformed about these factors until my rankings started dropping. Below are four things you can do to protect your site.

Four steps to get started on website security

1. Get security plug-ins installed

On average, a typical small business website gets attacked 44 times each day, and software “bots” attack these sites more than 150 million times every week. And this is for both WordPress sites and even for non-WordPress websites. 

Malware security breaches can lead to hackers stealing your data, data loss, or it could even make you lose access to your website. And in some cases, it can deface your website and that will not just spoil your brand reputation, it will also affect your SEO rankings.

To prevent that from happening, enhance your website security with WordPress plugins. These plugins will not just block off the brute force and malware attacks, they will harden WordPress security for your site, thus addressing the security vulnerabilities for each platform and countering all other hack attempts that could pose a threat to your website.

2. Use very strong passwords

As much as it is very tempting to use a password you can easily remember, don’t. Surprisingly, the most common password for most people is still 123456. You can’t afford to take such risks. 

Make the effort to generate a secure password. The rule is to mix up letters, numbers, and special characters, and to make it long. And this is not just for you. Ensure that all those who have access to your website are held to the same high standard that you hold yourself.

3. Ensure your website is constantly updated

As much as using a content management system (CMS) comes with a lot of benefits, it also has attendant risks attached. According to this Sucuri report, the presence of vulnerabilities in CMS’s extensible components is the highest cause of website infections. This is because the codes used in these tools are easily accessible owing to the fact that they are usually created as open-source software programs. That means hackers can access them too.

To protect your website, make sure your plugins, CMS, and apps are all updated regularly. 

4. Install an SSL certificate

installing an SSL certificate for website security SEO rankings

Image source

If you pay attention, you will notice that some URLs begin with “https://” while others start with “http://”. You may have likely noticed that when you needed to make an online payment. The big question is what does the “s” mean and where did it come from?

To explain it in very simple terms, that extra “s” is a way of showing that the connection you have with that website is encrypted and secure. That means that any data you input on that website is safe. That little “s” represents a technology known as SSL.

But why is website security important for SEO ranking?

Following Google’s Chrome update in 2017, sites that have “FORMS” but have no SSL certificate are marked as insecure. The SSL certificate, “Secure Sockets Layer” is the technology that encrypts the link between a browser and a web server, protects the site from hackers, and also makes sure that all the data that gets passed between a browser and a web server remains private.

why is website security important for SEO rankings, example with http vs https

Image source

A normal website comes with a locked key in the URL bar, but sites without SSL certificates, on the other hand, have the tag “Not Secure”. This applies to any website that has any form.

According to research carried out by Hubspot, 82% of those that responded to a consumer survey stated that they would leave a website that is not secure. And since Google chrome already holds about 67% out of the whole market share, that is a lot of traffic to lose.

research, how many users would consider browsing on a website that is not secure

Image source

Technically, the major benefit of having Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) instead of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is that it gives users a more secure connection that they can use to share personal data with you. This adds an additional layer of security which becomes important especially if you are accepting any form of payment on your site.

To move from HTTP to HTTPS you have to get an SSL certificate (Secure Socket Layer certificate) installed on your website.

why does an SSL certificate work for website securityImage source 

Once you get your SSL certificate installed successfully on a web server and configured, Google Chrome will show a green light. It will then act as a padlock by providing a secure connection between the browser and the webserver. For you, what this means is that even if a hacker is able to intercept your data, it will be impossible for them to decrypt it.

Security may have a minor direct effect on your website ranking, but it affects your website in so many indirect ways. It may mean paying a little price, but in the end, the effort is worth it.

Segun Onibalusi is the Founder and CEO at SEO POW, an organic link building agency. He can be found on Twitter @iamsegun_oni.

The post Why website security affects SEO rankings (and what you can do about it) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Top 4 Reasons Hanapin Loves YouTube Ads for SaaS Companies

November 3, 2019 No Comments

There are a lot of great reasons why SaaS businesses should be running YouTube ads, but here are our top 4.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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New Relic snags early-stage serverless monitoring startup IOpipe

November 2, 2019 No Comments

As we move from a world dominated by virtual machines to one of serverless, it changes the nature of monitoring, and vendors like New Relic certainly recognize that. This morning the company announced it was acquiring IOpipe, a Seattle-based early-stage serverless monitoring startup, to help beef up its serverless monitoring chops. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

New Relic gets what it calls “key members of the team,” which at least includes co-founders Erica Windisch and Adam Johnson, along with the IOpipe technology. The new employees will be moving from Seattle to New Relic’s Portland offices.

“This deal allows us to make immediate investments in onboarding that will make it faster and simpler for customers to integrate their [serverless] functions with New Relic and get the most out of our instrumentation and UIs that allow fast troubleshooting of complex issues across the entire application stack,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

It adds that initially the IOpipe team will concentrate on moving AWS Lambda features like Lambda Layers into the New Relic platform. Over time, the team will work on increasing support for serverless function monitoring. New Relic is hoping by combining the IOpipe team and solution with its own, it can speed up its serverless monitoring chops.

Eliot Durbin, an investor at Bold Start, which led the company’s $ 2 million seed round in 2018, says both companies win with this deal. “New Relic has a huge commitment to serverless, so the opportunity to bring IOpipe’s product to their market-leading customer base was attractive to everyone involved,” he told TechCrunch.

The startup has been helping monitor serverless operations for companies running AWS Lambda. It’s important to understand that serverless doesn’t mean there are no servers, but the cloud vendor — in this case AWS — provides the exact resources to complete an operation, and nothing more.

IOpipe co-founders Erica Windisch and Adam Johnson

Photo: New Relic

Once the operation ends, the resources can simply get redeployed elsewhere. That makes building monitoring tools for such ephemeral resources a huge challenge. New Relic has also been working on the problem and released New Relic Serverless for AWS Lambda earlier this year.

As TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois pointed out in his article about the company’s $ 2.5 million seed round in 2017, Windisch and Johnson bring impressive credentials:

IOpipe co-founders Adam Johnson (CEO) and Erica Windisch (CTO), too, are highly experienced in this space, having previously worked at companies like Docker and Midokura (Adam was the first hire at Midokura and Erica founded Docker’s security team). They recently graduated from the Techstars NY program.

IOpipe was founded in 2015, which was just around the time that Amazon was announcing Lambda. At the time of the seed round the company had eight employees. According to PitchBook data, it currently has between 1 and 10 employees, and has raised $ 7.07 million since its inception.

New Relic was founded in 2008 and has raised more than $ 214 million, according to Crunchbase, before going public in 2014. Its stock price was $ 65.42 at the time of publication, up $ 1.40.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Scaling SEO: 5 levels of automated digital progression & elevation

November 2, 2019 No Comments

Today, SEOs have a massive opportunity to expand their role in digital workflows, as far as both the volume and importance of tasks available. As companies increasingly look for equal parts creativity and analytical skills in digital leadership, experienced SEOs are uniquely positioned to fill the gap—that is, if they are able to capitalize on the innovations that enable them to practice scaling their best SEO efforts.

I wrote recently about the power of intelligent automation; that is, automation supercharged by a layer of artificial intelligence. Digital is encountering and even coming to rely on AI in predictive analytics, automated sales analysis, research and information aggregation, automated communications (think chatbots and email), and even virtual personal assistants.

Across digital channels, campaigns, and tactics, it seems nothing is untouched by automation. And yet the degree of automation and just how much AI informs the decisions being made can vary widely. Intelligent automation isn’t an all-or-nothing prospect—there are many different ways we can work alongside the machines revolutionizing digital.

In fact, those with the greatest understanding of how to collaborate with intelligent machines hold the keys to driving digital forward.

5 levels of automation: Elevating SEO and driving digital performance

Let’s look to the automotive industry for a model automation framework that illustrates just how much technology impacts the human experience in a defined task. The Society of Automotive Engineers created its “Levels of Driving Automation” standard to define the six levels of automation in the driverless car industry.

From Level 0 through to 5, the tasks a human driver must undertake decrease, while technological features increase.

SAE automation levels for driverless cars

Image source: NHSTA.gov

In Level 0, the driver is on her own and must constantly steer, brake, accelerate, signal, and otherwise control all aspects of the car’s performance. By Level 3, she may be in the driver’s seat but various automated driving features are engaged. The conditions must be right for automated operation, and the machine can ask her to take over at any time.

Lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and self-parking are a few examples of automated driving features you might experience in a Level 3 or 4 vehicle. (As Lance Eliot pointed out recently in Forbes, we’ve yet to see a true Level 5—a truly automated and driverless car—in action. The U.S Department of Transportation expects we’ll see fully driverless cars from 2025 and beyond).

We can apply this sort of framework to help further our understanding of the intelligent automation opportunity for SEOs. And while the automotive industry has all sorts of regulations and laws in place to protect public safety, you are a lot freer to explore the boundaries of intelligent automation in digital (and in SEO, in particular), so long as you respect user privacy.

Level 1: Manual SEO

The SEO of days gone by was almost entirely manual and incredibly time-consuming. That’s not to say that the more labour-intensive style of SEO doesn’t still happen today; there are still some SEOs who toil away in Excel, manually auditing and optimizing sites. Manual SEO gives you complete control over your entire search strategy, from selecting backlinks at the individual level to careful optimizations throughout the site. But with 53% of website traffic coming from organic search – opportunities to capitalize and scale are immense.

how much of website traffic comes from organic SEO, paid search, organic social, other

However, it’s simply impossible to ingest, analyze and activate search data at any sort of scale without automation. Manual SEO can be incredibly effective, but that value is reduced by every missed opportunity caused by slow implementation and the expensive overhead of a team of experts.

Level 2: Simple automation

Some of the tools you use in SEO today were probably borne out of earlier SEOs’ need to automate manual tasks such as keyword research and tracking rankings. Second generation SEO tools began to automate content optimizations (at least, pointing out opportunities to optimize).

Simple automation is almost exclusively about reducing manual labor for simple tasks. Gathering the same data set at regular intervals, such as daily rankings on specific keywords, for example. Scouring the web for links to your site.

Simple automation will reduce labor spent on these tasks, freeing up time and energy for more creative and strategic activities. Think of this level of SEO automation as cruise control—you can take your foot off the pedal and let the machine do some of the work, but you are very much still in control of the car.

Level 3: Application of AI for insights

In Level 3, our SEO software becomes a whole lot smarter thanks to artificially intelligent analysis. In this stage, the car is driving itself—but only under certain conditions.

From your place in the driver’s seat, you control what input you feed your SEO tools and define what you’d like as outcomes. Through the analysis of massive data sets (far more than you could ever plow through on your own), you’re able to glean greater insights and make better decisions.

You can automate the process of analyzing your site’s content and have your software return optimization recommendations based on your selected keywords, for example. This can inform your content creation efforts and ensures that you’re spending the time you do have on the areas with the potential for the highest impact.

Level 4: Real-time interactions

The car is driving itself, but you can’t throw caution to the wind and take it out in all conditions. In the driverless car world, a Level 4 vehicle may not even have a steering wheel or brake pedals installed. In a 2018 test case in Japan, for example, a driverless taxi ferried paying fares on a defined route through the manic streets of Tokyo.

Chatbots are a great example of a Level 4 automation in digital. SEOs are a natural fit for driving conversational AI strategy, as consumers often turn to chatbots as an extension of the search experience. Whether querying by text or by voice, connected consumers look to intelligent automated assistants to help them solve their immediate needs. Who understands that customer’s journey and which pieces of content best answer their questions better than the SEO team? If chatbots are being treated as a function of sales, it’s important that marketing (and search in particular) assert their will to be consulted, or even to lead.

Level 5: Real-time decision-making and automated optimizations

The fully autonomous car may drive itself, but its independence is an illusion. The car—when it comes to market—will rely on teams of skilled designers, engineers, and developers to create and maintain the systems that will enable it to make decisions and take action in the moment to keep its passengers safe.

And so it is with fully AI-integrated search software. Disparate tools that automate only a handful of functions have fallen to the wayside as platforms have evolved to ensure that all functions are able to share data and “talk” to one another. Empowering the machines to prioritize tasks and make decisions about which optimizations can be executed in real time, as consumers make their needs apparent, enables brands to be fully responsive and even proactive in personalizing the search experience.

Don’t be left holding the wrench | Add automated talent to your team

Let me us a mechanic as a generic example. Being a mechanic is a perfectly respectable profession. However, 20 years from now a person with those skills alone is going to have a difficult time finding employment. The mechanic who is upgrading his skills today, who is now studying engineering or transportation safety or automotive software development, is ensuring his employability when driverless cars hit the market.

Those mechanical skills will still be needed, but they’ll have to be complemented by a solid understanding of the computerized systems that drive the car. They’ll have to be able and willing to work alongside the machines.

SEOs today have the opportunity to elevate their role and self-drive some SEO functions with automation and be the CMOs or CDOs of tomorrow something (that my company) does with BrightEdge Autopilot. Especially if they can position themselves as the best choice to work alongside Level 5 systems.

Search’s broad impact across the entire digital customer journey gives SEOs a wide-ranging set of skills and perspectives on which to build and eventually lead. To capitalize on the opportunity, search professionals must be willing to embrace AI not as a tool, but as a collaborative digital partner—one that can be trusted to make the right decisions when guided by the right strategy.

All too often marketers find themselves in mixed debate over the merit of one digital channel over the other, the pros and cons of Artificial Intelligence and the opportunities for the next promotion. The reality is that in any thriving ecosystem balance is key. The same is true for search and digital marketing. It is particularly the case for SEO as working in technically orientated environment requires much work and a lot of balance given its influence on content and all digital channels.

Those who can intelligently embrace advancements in AI and automation are actually the ones who stand to get that next promotion and elevate their role in digital. After all – in reality they already have extra members on their team.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform BrightEdge. He can be found on Twitter @jimyu.

The post Scaling SEO: 5 levels of automated digital progression & elevation appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Facebook sues OnlineNIC for domain name fraud associated with malicious activity

November 2, 2019 No Comments

Facebook today announced it has filed suit in California against domain registrar OnlineNIC and its proxy service ID Shield for registering domain names that pretend to be associated with Facebook, like www-facebook-login.com or facebook-mails.com, for example. Facebook says these domains are intentionally designed to mislead and confuse end users, who believe they’re interacting with Facebook.

These fake domains are also often associated with malicious activity, like phishing.

While some who register such domains hope to eventually sell them back to Facebook at a marked-up price, earning a profit, others have worse intentions. And with the launch of Facebook’s own cryptocurrency, Libra, a number of new domain cybersquatters have emerged. Facebook was recently able to take down some of these, like facebooktoken.org and ico-facebook.org, one of which had already started collecting personal information from visitors by falsely touting a Facebook ICO.

Facebooks’ new lawsuit, however, focuses specifically on OnlineNIC, which Facebook says has a history of allowing cybersquatters to register domains with its privacy/proxy service, ID Shield. The suit alleges that the registered domains, like hackingfacebook.net, are being used for malicious activity, including “phishing and hosting websites that purported to sell hacking tools.”

The suit also references some 20 other domain names that are confusingly similar to Facebook and Instagram trademarks, it says.

Screen Shot 2019 10 31 at 1.27.38 PM

OnlineNIC has been sued before for allowing this sort of activity, including by Verizon, Yahoo, Microsoft and others. In the case of Verizon (disclosure: TechCrunch parent), OnlineNIC was found liable for registering more than 600 domain names similar to Verizon’s trademark, and the courts awarded $ 33.15 million in damages as a result, Facebook’s filing states.

Facebook is asking for a permanent injunction against OnlineNIC’s activity, as well as damages.

The company says it took this issue to the courts because OnlineNIC has not been responsive to its concerns. Facebook today proactively reports instances of abuse with domain name registrars and their privacy/proxy services, and often works with them to take down malicious domains. But the issue is widespread — there are tens of millions of domain names registered through these services today. Some of these businesses are not reputable, however. Some, like OnlineNIC, will not investigate or even respond to Facebook’s abuse reports.

The news of the lawsuit was previously reported by Cnet and other domain name news sources, based on courthouse filings.

Attorney David J. Steele, who previously won the $ 33 million judgement for Verizon, is representing Facebook in the case.

“By mentioning our apps and services in the domain names, OnlineNIC and ID Shield intended to make them appear legitimate and confuse people. This activity is known as cybersquatting and OnlineNIC has a history of this behavior,” writes Facebook, in an announcement. “This lawsuit is one more step in our ongoing efforts to protect people’s safety and privacy,” it says.

OnlineNIC has been asked for comment and we’ll update if it responds.


Social – TechCrunch


This tactile display lets visually impaired users feel on-screen 3D shapes

November 2, 2019 No Comments

Using a computer and modern software can be a chore to begin with for the visually impaired, but fundamentally visual tasks like 3D design are even harder. This Stanford team is working on a way to display 3D information, like in a CAD or modeling program, using a “2.5D” display made up of pins that can be raised or lowered as sort of tactile pixels. Taxels!

The research project, a collaboration between graduate student Alexa Siu, Joshua Miele and lab head Sean Follmer, is intended to explore avenues by which blind and visually impaired people can accomplish visual tasks without the aid of a sighted helper. It was presented this week at SIGACCESS.

tactile display2The device is essentially a 12×24 array of thin columns with rounded tops that can be individually told to rise anywhere from a fraction of an inch to several inches above the plane, taking the shape of 3D objects quickly enough to amount to real time.

“It opens up the possibility of blind people being, not just consumers of the benefits of fabrication technology, but agents in it, creating our own tools from 3D modeling environments that we would want or need – and having some hope of doing it in a timely manner,” explained Miele, who is himself blind, in a Stanford news release.

Siu calls the device “2.5D,” since of course it can’t show the entire object floating in midair. But it’s an easy way for someone who can’t see the screen to understand the shape it’s displaying. The resolution is limited, sure, but that’s a shortcoming shared by all tactile displays — which it should be noted are extremely rare to begin with and often very expensive.

The field is moving forward, but too slowly for some, like this crew and the parents behind the BecDot, an inexpensive Braille display for kids. And other tactile displays are being pursued as possibilities for interactions in virtual environments.

Getting an intuitive understanding of a 3D object, whether one is designing or just viewing it, usually means rotating and shifting it — something that’s difficult to express in non-visual ways. But a real-time tactile display like this one can change the shape it’s showing quickly and smoothly, allowing more complex shapes, like moving cross-sections, to be expressed as well.

tac

Son Kim, an assistive tech specialist at the Vista Center and collaborator on the project, demonstrates the device.

The device is far from becoming a commercial project, though as you can see in the images (and the video below), it’s very much a working prototype, and a fairly polished one at that. The team plans on reducing the size of the pins, which would of course increase the resolution of the display. Interestingly another grad student in the same lab is working on that very thing, albeit at rather an earlier stage.

The Shape Lab at Stanford is working on a number of projects along these lines — you can keep up with their work at the lab’s website.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


October Updates to Paid Advertising Platforms

November 1, 2019 No Comments

In this monthly post, we bring you the latest from all of the major ad platforms.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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Evolution of Google’s News Ranking Algorithm

November 1, 2019 No Comments

Image: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Did the Algorithm Behind How News Articles Rank at Google Just Change?

A Google Patent about how news articles are ranked by Google was updated this week, and in this case it suggests how entities in those documents can have an impact on ranking.

How Have News Articles Been Ranked at Google?

This patent was originally filed in 2003.

The beta version of Google News was first launched by Google in 2002, so this was one of the early patents that described how Google ranked news articles.

One of the inventors of the original patent was Krishna A. Bharat, known as a founder of Google News.

The newest version (a continuation patent) was just granted and is the Sixth Version of the patent. It can be found at:

Systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles
Inventors: Michael Curtiss, Krishna A. Bharat, and Michael Schmitt
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 10,459,926
Granted: October 29, 2019
Filed: April 27, 2015

This version of the patent provides a history of previous versions of the patent, and when they were filed and what the patent numbers of the earlier 5 versions are:

This application is a

(1) continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/140,108, filed on Dec. 24, 2013, which is a

(2) continuation of U.S. patent Ser. No. 13/616,659, filed on Sep. 14, 2012 (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,645,368), which is a

(3) continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/404,827, filed Feb. 24, 2012, (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,332,382), which is a

(4) continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/501,256, filed on Jul. 10, 2009, (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,126,876), which is a

(5) continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/662,931, filed Sep. 16, 2003, (now U.S. Pat. No. 7,577,655),

the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein.

What A Continuation Patent is

Continuation Patents take the date of the filing of the patent they are continuing (or the ones those patents are continuing) and are intended to show how the process described by the patents have changed. The processes are set out in the claims sections of the patents, which are the parts of the patents that the prosecuting patent officer reviews when deciding whether or not to grant the new patents.

Often, looking at the very first claim of each patent can help identify important aspects that have changed from one version of a patent to another. It is somewhat rare (in my experience) to see a patent that has been updated 6 times as this one has. I recently wrote about Google’s Universal Search Interface patent which was recently updated a fourth time – Google’s New Universal Search Results.

What Caused A Recent Rankings Change at the New York Times?

A post on Twitter this week suggested that The New York Times may have been negatively impacted by a new Algorithm called Bert that was just released at Google, which was announced in Understanding searches better than ever before.

That Tweet does tell us that it is possible that BERT may have had an impact or a move to Mobile-First Indexing may have caused a loss of rankings at the Newspaper’s site. But seeing that tweet, and seeing that there was a new version of this patent made me curious to see what it contained, and what the changes it may have brought about were.

The Changing Claims from the Ranking of News Articles Patents

But it’s possible that other changes at Google could also have an impact on rankings at news sites. One way to tell how Google changed it how ranks articles is to look at how the patent covering the ranking of news articles has changed over time.

Compare How the first 4 claims from this patent have changed over time.

The latest first claim in this patent introduces some new things to look at

What is claimed is:

1. A method for ranking results, comprising: receiving a list of objects; identifying a first object in the list and a first source with which the first object is associated; identifying a second object in the list and a second source with which the second object is associated; determining a quantity of named entities that (i) occur in the first object that is associated with the first source, and (ii) do not occur in objects that are identified as sharing a same cluster with the first object but that are associated with one or more sources other than the first source; computing, based at least on the quantity of named entities that (i) occur in the first object that is associated with the first source, and (ii) do not occur in objects that are identified as sharing a same cluster with the first object but that are associated with one or more sources other than the first source, a first quality value of the first source using a first metric, wherein a named entity corresponds to a person, place, or organization; computing a second quality value of the second source using a second metric that is different from the first metric; and ranking the list of objects based on the first quality value and the second quality value.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the identifying the first source with which the first object is associated includes: identifying the first source based on a uniform resource locator (URL) associated with the first object.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein the first source is a news source.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein computing the first quality value of the first source is further based on: one or more of a number of articles produced by the first source during a first time period, an average length of an article produced by the first source, an amount of important coverage that the first source produces in a second time period, a breaking news score, network traffic to the first source, a human opinion of the first source, circulation statistics of the first source, a size of a staff associated with the first source, a number of bureaus associated with the first source, a breadth of coverage by the first source, a number of different countries from which traffic to the first source originates, and a writing style used by the first source.

From the version of the patent that was filed on Sep. 14, 2012 (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,645,368):

What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: determining, using one or more processors and based on receiving a search query, articles and respective scores; identifying, using one or more processors, for an article of the articles, a source with which the article is associated; determining, using one or more processors, a score for the source, the score for the source being based on: a metric that represents an evaluation, by one or more users, of the source, and an amount of traffic associated with the source; and adjusting, using one or more processors, the score of the article based on the score for the source.

2. The method of claim 1, where identifying the source includes identifying the source based on an address associated with the article.

3. The method of claim 1, where determining the score includes accessing a memory to determine the score for the source.

4. The method of claim 1, where the score for the source is further based on a length of time between an occurrence of an event and publication, by the source, of an article associated with the event.

From the Version of the patent filed on Feb. 24, 2012, (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,332,382):

What is claimed is:

1. A computer-implemented method comprising: obtaining, in response to receiving a search query, articles and respective scores; identifying, using one or more processors, for an article of the articles, a source with which the article is associated; determining, using one or more processors, a score for the source, based on polling one or more users to request the one or more users to provide a metric that represents an evaluation of a source and based on a length of time between an occurrence of an event and publication, by the source, of another article associated with the event; and adjusting, using one or more processors, the score of the article based on the score for the source.

2. The method of claim 1, where identifying the source includes identifying the source based on an address associated with the article.

3. The method of claim 1, where adjusting the score of the article includes: determining, using the score for the source, a new score for the article associated with the source; and adjusting the score of the article based on the determined new score.

4. The method of claim 1, where the score for the source is further based on a usage pattern indicating traffic associated with the source.

From the version of the patent that was filed on February 10, 2009, (Now U.S. Pat. No. 8,126,876):

What is claimed is:

1. A method, performed by one or more server devices, the method comprising: receiving, at one or more processors of the one or more server devices, a search query, from a client device; generating, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices and in response to receiving the search query, a list of references to news articles; identifying, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices and for each reference in the list of references, a news source with which each reference is associated; determining, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices and for each identified news source, whether a news source rank exists; determining, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices and for each reference with an existing corresponding news source rank, a new score by combining the news source rank and a score corresponding to a previous ranking of the reference; and ranking, by one or more processors of the one or more server devices, the references in the list of references based, at least in part, on the new scores.

2. The method of claim 1, where determining whether each news source rank exists includes accessing a database to locate the news source rank.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising: providing the ranked list of references to the client device.

4. The method of claim 1, where determining the new score comprises: determining, for each reference with an existing corresponding news source rank, a weighted sum of the news source rank and the score corresponding to the previous ranking of the reference.

And the Very First Version of the patent filed on September 16, 2003, (Now U.S. Pat. No. 7,577,655):

What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: determining, by a processor, one or more metric values for a news source based at least in part on at least one of a number of articles produced by the news source during a first time period, an average length of an article produced by the news source, an amount of coverage that the news source produces in a second time period, a breaking news score, an amount of network traffic to the news source, a human opinion of the news source, circulation statistics of the news source, a size of a staff associated with the news source, a number of bureaus associated with the news source, a number of original named entities in a group of articles associated with the news source, a breadth of coverage by the news source, a number of different countries from which network traffic to the news source originates, or a writing style used by the news source determining, by the processor, an importance metric value representing the amount of coverage that the news source produces in a second time period, where the determining an importance metric includes: determining, by the processor, for each article produced by the news source during the second time period, a number of other non-duplicate articles on a same subject produced by other news sources to produce an importance value for the article, and adding, by the processor, the importance values to obtain the importance metric value; generating, by the processor, a quality value for the news source based at least in part on the determined one or more metric values; and using, by the processor, the quality value to rank an object associated with the news source.

2. The method of claim 1 where the determining includes: determining, by the processor, a plurality of metric values for the news source.

3. The method of claim 2 where the generating includes: multiplying, by the processor, each metric value in the plurality of metric values by a factor to create a plurality of adjusted metric values, and adding, by the processor, the plurality of adjusted metric values to obtain the quality value.

4. The method of claim 3 where the plurality of metric values includes a predetermined number of highest metric values for the news source.

How the News Ranking Claims Differ

An analysis of changes over Time to the patent for “Systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles,” should reflect how Google has changed how they have been implementing that patent.

We can see that in the claims for the very first patent (filed in 2003) that Google was looking at metric values for different news sources to rank the content that those sources were creating. That very long first claim from that version of the patent list a number of metrics to use to rank news sources, and that ranking influenced the ranking of news articles. So a story from a very well known news agency would have a tendency to rank higher than a story from a lesser-known agency.

The version of the patent filed in 2009 still focuses upon news sources (and a “news source rank”), along with references to the news articles generated by those news sources.

The version of the patent filed in February 2012 again tells us about a score for a news article that is influenced by a score for a news source, but it doesn’t include the many metrics that the 2003 version of the patent does.

The version of the patent filed in September 2012 Holds on to the score for the source, but tells us that score is based on a metric that represents an evaluation, by one or more users, the amount of traffic associated with the source, and a score for the article based upon a score for the source.

The most recent published version of this patent, filed in April 2015, and granted in October 2019 introduces some changes in how news articles may be ranked by Google. It tells us about how articles covering different topics are placed in clusters (which isn’t new in itself), and how those articles may rank higher than other articles by covering more entities that aren’t covered by articles in the same clusters


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