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The 11 best startups from Y Combinator’s S19 Demo Day 1

August 20, 2019 No Comments

Y Combinator, the genesis for many of the companies that have shaped Silicon Valley including Airbnb, PagerDuty and Stripe, has minted another 200 some graduates. Half of those companies made their pitch to investors today during Day 1 of Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 Demo Day event and we’re here to tell you which startups are on the fast-track to the unicorn club.

Eighty-four startups presented (read the full run-through of every company plus some early analysis here) and after chatting with investors, batch founders and of course, debating amongst ourselves, we’ve nailed down the 11 most promising startups to present during Day 1. We’ll be back Tuesday with our second round of top picks.



Startups – TechCrunch


Robots.txt best practice guide, part 2: Setting up your robots.txt file

August 10, 2019 No Comments

Part two of our article on “Robots.txt best practice guide + examples” talks about how to set up your newly created robots.txt file.

If you are not sure how to create your own robots.txt file or are not sure what one is, head on over to our first part of this article series, “Robots.txt best practice guide + examples” were you will be able to learn the ins and outs of what a robots.txt file is and how to properly set one up. Even if you have been in the SEO game for some time, the article offers a great refresher course.

robots.txt file how to install on your site

How to add a robots.txt file to your site

A Robots.txt file is typically stored in the root of your website for it to be found. For example, if your site were https://www.mysite.com, your robots.txt file would be found here: https://www.mysite.com/robots.txt. By placing the file in the main folder or root directory of your site, you will then be able to control the crawling of all urls under the https://www.mysite.com domain.

It’s also important to know that a robots.txt is case sensitive, so be sure to name the file “robots.txt” and not something like Robots.txt, ROBOTS.TXT, robots.TXT, or any other variation with capital letters.

Why a robots.txt file is important

A Robots.txt is just a plain text file, but that “plain” text file is extremely important as it is used to let the search  engines know exactly where they can and cannot go on your site. This is why it is an extremely import part of your website.

Once you have added your brand new robots.txt file to your site or are simply just making updates to your current robots.txt file, it’s important to test it out to make sure that it is working the way that you want.

While there are lots of sites and different tools that you can use to test out your robots.txt file, you can still use Google’s robots.txt file tester in the old version of Search Console. Simply log in to your site’s Search Console, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on → Go to old version

 

google search console example of how to install old version of robots.txt file

Then click on Crawl → robots.txt tester

google search console step two, tester tool for robots.txt fileFrom here, you’ll be able to test your sites robots.txt file by adding the code from your file to the box and then clicking on the “test” button.

google search console tester tool for testing a site's robots.txt file

If all goes well, the red test button should now be green and should have switched to “Allowed”, once that happens, it means that your new created or modified robots.txt file is valid. You can now upload your robots.txt file to your sites root directory.

Google updates to robots.txt file standards effective Sept 1

Google recently announced that changes are coming to how Google understands some of the unsupported directives in your robots.txt file.

Effective September 1, Google will stop supporting unsupported and unpublished rules in the robots exclusion protocol. That means that Google will no longer support robots.txt files with the noindex directive listed within the file.

If you have used the noindex directive in your robots.txt file in the past to control crawling, there are a number of alternative options that you can use:

Noindex in robots meta tags: Both of these tags are supported in both the HTTP response headers and in HTML. However, the noindex directive is the most effective way to remove URLs from the index when crawling is allowed.

404 and 410 HTTP status codes

Both of these status codes mean that the page does not exist, which will drop any URLs that return this code from Google’s index once they’re crawled and processed.

Password protection

Adding password protection is a great way to block Google from seeing and crawling pages on your site or your site entirely (thinking about a dev version of the site) Hiding a page behind a login will generally remove it from Google’s index as they are not able to fill in the required information to move forward to see what’s behind the login. You can use the Subscription and paywalled content markup for that type of content, but that’s a whole other topic for another time.

Disallow in robots.txt

Search engines can only index pages that they know about (can find and crawl), so by blocking the page or pages from being crawled usually means its content won’t be indexed.  It’s important to remember that Google may still find and index those pages, by other pages linking back to them.

Search Console Remove URL tool

The search console removal tool offers a quick and easy way for you to be able to remove a URL temporarily from Google’s search results. We say temporarily because this option is only valid for about 90 days. After that, your url can again appear in Google’s search results.

To make your removal permanent, you will need to follow the steps mentioned above

  • Block access to the content (requiring a password)
  • Add a noindex meta tag
  • Create a 404 or 410 http status code

Conclusion

Making small tweaks can sometimes have big impacts on your sites SEO and by using a robots.txt file is one of those tweaks that can make a significant difference.

Remember that your robots.txt file must be uploaded to the root of your site and must be called “robots.txt” for it to be found. This little text file is a must have for every website and adding a robots.txt file to the root folder of your site is a very simple process

I hope this article helped you learn how to add a robots.txt file to your site, as well as the importance of having one. If you want to learn more about robots.txt files and you haven’t done so already, you can read part one of this article series “Robots.txt best practice guide + examples.”

What’s your experience creating robots.txt files?

Michael McManus is Earned Media (SEO) Practice Lead at iProspect.

The post Robots.txt best practice guide, part 2: Setting up your robots.txt file appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Why Honesty is the Best Policy in PPC Marketing

July 13, 2019 No Comments

Over the years, I have seen so many horror stories when it comes to PPC Management. Whether it’s advertisers flying blind with their ad budgets or the common event of not knowing that their ads are being shown with irrelevant terms, there should always 100% transparency between the agency and the client. Furthermore, there needs to be more HONESTY on behalf of the PPC Agency. In this post, I will talk about a few areas of the Agency/Client Relationship that should be based on being honest with the client.

Educate the Advertiser:

Let’s face it, the PPC agency knows more about PPC Marketing than the client. However, that does not mean the client needs to be taken advantage of because they do not know how everything works. The person handling the client’s account needs to “in many ways” educate the client as to what is working, not working and where there are opportunities.

Admit Mistakes:

Everyone makes mistakes, right? Well, PPC Agencies should not try and hide them just because they can get away with it. Agencies should be forthcoming with admitting mistakes that were made and how efficiently and effectively they were fixed. It’s better to be honest with the client, than having them find out later that you lied to them. Ever heard of a Referral or a Testimonial?

Honest and Factual Reporting:

Over the years, I have seen so many poor examples of PPC Reporting where clients receive an excel spreadsheet of just Clicks, Impressions, CTR%, CPCs, etc… and not a single keyword or text ad or even a sentence on the performance of the account. In today’s world that is unacceptable.  Moreover, I have also seen examples of trend charts being manipulated to disguise the true performance of a specific metric. Agencies have a responsibility to provide not only excellent service, but also honest and factual reporting.

Managing Expectations:

PPC Marketing is not for everyone and for those who are spending money have this perception that the more they spend the better the results. That is completely FALSE. If an client/advertiser was given any sort of Guarantee from an agency, they should “run for the hills”. Guarantees in PPC Marketing are very dangerous for both parties because they create false expectations. An agency must be honest and upfront with the client when it comes to setting expectations both on performance and future success. The agency must have a clear understanding of the client’s:

  • Cost per Conversions/Acquisition
  • Targeted Audience
  • Messaging Tactics
  • Daily and Monthly Budgets

In Conclusion:

Honesty is always the best policy in PPC. Agencies have a responsibility to not only provide excellent service, but also be honest and forthcoming with the client. I have heard countless stories of poor PPC Management, including the topics I mentioned in this post. Some may say that is good for the industry because it creates more “turnover” and more opportunities for other agencies. However, for this PPC Geek, I believe in Happy Clients.


PPC Marketing Consultant | Google Ads Agency


4th of July Sales (2019): 25 Best Tech Deals This Weekend

July 7, 2019 No Comments

If you’re looking for outdoor and indoor essentials, you can save a lot of cash this Independence Day weekend.
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Best Buy cancels Samsung Galaxy Fold pre-orders

May 25, 2019 No Comments

Samsung is taking its time bringing the Galaxy Fold back to market. And frankly, that’s probably for the best. The Note debacle from a few years back was an important lesson about what happens when you rush a product back to market. That one resulted in a second recall — PR nightmare upon PR nightmare.

With a release date still very much in limbo, Best Buy has sent notes to those who pre-ordered the Fold. Spotted by The Verge, the letter has since been posted to Best Buy’s support forum. It cites “a plethora of unforeseen hiccups,” (fair enough) adding, “Because we put our customers first and want to ensure they are taken care of in the best possible manner, Best Buy has decided to cancel all current pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

The letter goes on to assure customers that the big-box retailer is “working closely with Samsung” to help deliver the product to customers. At the moment, however, their guess on the time frame is as good as ours.

Recent reports have suggested that an announcement was imminent, with the company having solved design flaws that had reviewers peeling off screens and getting debris jammed in the holes of the folding mechanism. More recent reports gave the product a June 13 release date, but that, too, appears to have been scrubbed for the time being.

Mobile – TechCrunch


LEGO Braille bricks are the best, nicest, and in retrospect most obvious idea ever

April 24, 2019 No Comments

Braille is a crucial skill for children with visual impairments to learn, and with these LEGO Braille Bricks kids can learn through hands-on play rather than more rigid methods like Braille readers and printouts. Given the naturally Braille-like structure of LEGO blocks, it’s surprising this wasn’t done decades ago.

The truth is, however, that nothing can be obvious enough when it comes to marginalized populations like people with disabilities. But sometimes all it takes is someone in the right position to say “You know what? That’s a great idea and we’re just going to do it.”

It happened with the BecDot (above) and it seems to have happened at LEGO. Stine Storm led the project, but Morten Bonde, who himself suffers from degenerating vision, helped guide the team with the passion and insight that only comes with personal experience.

In some remarks sent over by LEGO, Bonde describes his drive to help:

When I was contacted by the LEGO Foundation to function as internal consultant on the LEGO Braille Bricks project, and first met with Stine Storm, where she showed me the Braille bricks for the first time, I had a very emotional experience. While Stine talked about the project and the blind children she had visited and introduced to the LEGO Braille Bricks I got goose bumps all over the body. I just knew that I had to work on this project.

I want to help all blind and visually impaired children in the world dare to dream and see that life has so much in store for them. When, some years ago, I was hit by stress and depression over my blind future, I decided one day that life is too precious for me not to enjoy every second of. I would like to help give blind children the desire to embark on challenges, learn to fail, learn to see life as a playground, where anything can come true if you yourself believe that they can come true. That is my greatest ambition with my participation in the LEGO Braille Bricks project

The bricks themselves are very like the originals, specifically the common 2×4 blocks, except they don’t have the full 8 “studs” (so that’s what they’re called). Instead, they have the letters of the Braille alphabet, which happens to fit comfortably in a 2×3 array of studs, with room left on the bottom to put a visual indicator of the letter or symbol for sighted people.

It’s compatible with ordinary LEGO bricks and of course they can be stacked and attached themselves, though not with quite the same versatility as an ordinary block, since some symbols will have fewer studs. You’ll probably want to keep them separate, since they’re more or less identical unless you inspect them individually.

All told the set, which will be provided for free to institutions serving vision-impaired students, will include about 250 pieces: A-Z (with regional variants), the numerals 0-9, basic operators like + and =, and some “inspiration for teaching and interactive games.” Perhaps some specialty pieces for word games and math toys, that sort of thing.

LEGO was already one of the toys that can be enjoyed equally by sighted and vision-impaired children, but this adds a new layer, or I suppose just re-engineers an existing and proven one, to extend and specialize the decades-old toy for a group that already seems already to have taken to it:

“The children’s level of engagement and their interest in being independent and included on equal terms in society is so evident. I am moved to see the impact this product has on developing blind and visually impaired children’s academic confidence and curiosity already in its infant days,” said Bonde.

Danish, Norwegian, English, and Portuguese blocks are being tested now, with German, Spanish and French on track for later this year. The kit should ship in 2020 — if you think your classroom could use these, get in touch with LEGO right away.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


Best iPhone for 2019: Which Model Should You Actually Buy?

March 28, 2019 No Comments

Picking the right iPhone has become an increasingly difficult choice, but this breakdown should help you figure out whether you want an iPhone XR or another model, where to buy a case, and whether it’s a good time to purchase.
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Galaxy S10 takes the ‘best smartphone display’ crown

March 6, 2019 No Comments

As you may have gathered from our review of Samsung’s Galaxy S10, it’s a very solid phone with lots of advanced features. But one thing that’s especially difficult to test is the absolute quality of the display — which is why we leave that part to the experts. And this expert says the S10’s screen is the best ever on a smartphone.

Ray Soneira has tested every major phone, tablet and laptop series for many a year, using all the cool color calibration, reflectance and brightness measurement and other gear that goes with the job. So when he says the S10’s display is “absolutely stunning and Beautiful,” with a capital B at that, it’s worth taking note.

OLED technology has advanced a great deal since the first one I encountered, on the Zune HD — which still works and looks great, by the way, thank you. But originally it had quite a few trade-offs compared with LCD panels, such as weird color casts or pixel layout issues. Samsung has progressed well beyond that and OLED has come into its own with a vengeance. As Ray puts it:

The Absolute Color Accuracy on the Galaxy S10 is the Most Color Accurate Display we have ever measured. It is Visually Indistinguishable From Perfect, and almost certainly considerably better than your existing Smartphone, living room HDTV, Tablet, Laptop, and computer monitor, as demonstrated in our extensive Absolute Color Accuracy Lab Measurements.

The very challenging set of DisplayMate Test and Calibration Photos that we use to evaluate picture quality looked absolutely stunning and Beautiful, even to my experienced hyper-critical eyes.

Make sure you switch the phone’s display to “natural mode,” which makes subtle changes to the color space depending on the content and ambient light.

And although he has enthused many times before about the quality of various displays and the advances they made over their predecessors, the above is certainly very different language from, for example, how he described the reigning champ until today — the iPhone X:

Apple has produced an impressive Smartphone display with excellent performance and accuracy, which we cover in extensive detail below. What makes the iPhone X the Best Smartphone Display is the impressive Precision Display Calibration Apple developed, which transforms the OLED hardware into a superbly accurate, high performance, and gorgeous display, with close to Text Book Perfect Calibration and Performance!!

High praise, but not quite falling all over himself, as he did with the S10. As you can see, I rate smartphone displays chiefly by the emotional response they evoke from Ray Soneira.

At this point, naturally, the gains from improving displays are fairly few, because, to be honest, not many people care or can even tell today’s flagship displays apart. But little touches like front and back sensors for ambient light detection, automatic calibration and brightness that take user preferences into account — these also improve the experience, and phone makers have been adding them at a good clip, as well.

No matter which flagship phone you buy today, it’s going to have a fantastic camera and screen — but if you like to see it all in black and white, read through the review and you’ll find your hopes justified.

Mobile – TechCrunch