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Fly away with Google’s New Pigeon Update

pigeon

Next time you’re at the zoo, if you see a terrified person in either the panda or penguin cages, you can assume they’re just doing some SEO work.

A Short History

The first major update Google rolled was in 2009 and named Caffeine. Caffeine started at 2009 and ended almost a year later, in 2010. This update allowed Google’s algorithm to index new or updated webpages more quickly (hence the name).  Caffeine made Google’s search results fresher.

Next came Panda. The Panda update began in February 2011 until April of that year, and hit a lot of sites very hard. This update aimed to remove from the search results sites thin on content, sites with out of date content, and content farms. Many digital marketing agencies around the world reported that their sites were hit badly. Since its first roll out, several versions of this update have been felt with the last one in May 2014.

The next big algorithm update came in March 2012. It was named Penguin. Penguin focused on bad link building: spam, link farms, bad anchor links, etc. This update shook the SEO world. Many sites were punished, meaning they didn’t appear in the search results for some or all of their keywords. New versions of this update continued into the beginning of 2012.

August 2013 was graced with the Hummingbird which improved Google’s semantic understanding of search queries and added the knowledge graphs.

The Pigeon Update

And now, we have a new update – Pigeon.

Roll out began a little more than two weeks ago (24 July, 2014) and is mostly about localized search results. Google is giving local information and relevance more strength. If you type in “pizza” in the search results, Google will now try to display pizza places close to your physical location.

pizza in chicago_small

Right now, Pigeon is only affecting .com results in the U.S. It will probably spread throughout the world in the next coming months.

For now, the search results are inconsistent. Large sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor have been pushed up. We will have to wait and see to understand exactly how this will affect the ranking of smaller websites.

So what does this mean for you? If you like big directory-style websites, Pigeon will give you what you’re looking for. If, however, you are a local restaurant or small business, you will have to bolster your SEO efforts to appear on the first pages.

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This entry was posted in SEO and tagged on August 13th, 2014 by Revital Sarusy.

You’ll Never Have to Leave Home Again without Your User Behavior Insights

Google iPhone appA couple of days ago, Google launched an official iPhone app for Google Analytics (the Android version came out in June). Now you can access the same data: visits, page views, etc. from your cellphone as from your PC. Even when not in front of a computer, you can see how your sites are doing in real time.

So why the facetious title?

Because, as an anonymous writer wrote on The Philosopher’s Mail:

… we can’t help but secretly want technological developments to be more significant and consequential than they in fact are. The messianic longing has to go somewhere and, for want of a better destination, nowadays it often gets channelled to our phones.

And we have made great leaps and strides with our cellphones. In a few short decades we went from phones attached with a curly cord to the wall > cordless phones with reception only of a slightly wider radius than the curly cord> cellphones the size of bricks.

Then things spiraled out of control.

Your cellphone now can do amazing things like, for instance, as of July 17th access Google Analytics.  Which, if you are a website operator, frees you from having to actually sit in front of a computer to monitor site activity.

And this appears to be the direction humanity is taking with regards to technology. Again to quote The Philosopher’s Mail, “Big tech companies are very narrowly focused on resolving problems of speed, convenience and distance.” Cellphones and the innumerous apps available precisely answer our problems of convenience and speed.

Could this also be why, with Apple launching cellphones with ever bigger screens, experts are predicting the end of the iPad - because everything is moving to our cellphones?

In the ORM industry, there isn’t too much of a need to closely monitor the websites we build – once in a while is enough.

However an app for monitoring the search results would be handy.

Google, if you’re listening, after you finish with world domination or whatever other project you are currently working on – could you develop an app for monitoring the SERPs?

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This entry was posted in Marketing, SEO and tagged on July 28th, 2014 by Gonie Aram.

Veribo Opens Shop in South Africa

South_Africa_provinces_+_flag_backA global leader in premium Online Reputation Management (ORM) has opened offices in Cape Town in a growth strategy to further penetrate the South African and African markets.

With offices in Tel Aviv, London and now Cape Town, Veribo has placed itself at the technological forefront of Online Reputation Management. This has been achieved through a sophisticated art of controlling and maximising online presence using unique and highly effective methods that enable companies, brands and individuals to better control their front-page search results and push unwanted results down.

The company is also able to effectively influence Google’s auto-complete feature, a specialised service not offered by many local ORM companies.

With the availability of “premium ORM” services in South Africa generally lacking, demand for the Veribo model and product offering has increased exponentially in recent months with the majority of new business coming from corporates and enterprises in mining, retail and banking – traditionally sectors where advanced ORM strategies are a necessity.

Why South Africa? ‘’The South African market has been lacking a premium and globally recognised ORM offering for some time,’’ comments Ran Blayer, Global CEO of Veribo. ’’The model has been highly successful in numerous countries and after a steadily increasing number of business enquiries from African-based companies and entities, we decided to open an office and appoint Business Development Managers in Cape Town and Johannesburg to answer to this demand. There is an undeniable hunger in South Africa for more technology in the Online Reputation Management realm and we have already begun working with various PR and marketing agencies, not to mention direct requests from the corporate sector. With more international ORM trends trickling into the country, we foresee the demand for implementing a more premium ORM strategy increasing.’’

‘’With nearly 25 million Internet users in South Africa and a 14% one-year growth, online research is only going to increase and with that so will the need for more complex ORM strategies.’’

‘’This is critical in today’s working environment where an increasing amount of South Africans are using search engines to look into and build references on brands, people and services. We give control back to our clients by helping them effectively manage their front-page search results, and avoiding the damage that unsolicited and often false reports and articles can cause to one’s reputation,’’ adds Blayer.

Operating in eight languages and servicing over 12 countries, Veribo’s clients are diverse, some of which include leading organisations in the private sector as well as high profile individuals and professionals who are looking to maximise their online reputation.

For more information contact:

Jonathan Kantey at jonathan.kantey@veribo.com

Rob Baird at rob.baird@veribo.com.

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This entry was posted in Marketing and tagged on July 21st, 2014 by Gonie Aram.

Unwanted Information on Google? It’s Not Going Away Anytime Soon

The European Union Court of Justice has ruled that every person has “the right to be forgotten” with regards to information that appears in the search results for their name. The directive grants people the right to request that links to “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” personal information about them be removed from Google.

This ruling has caused a flood of speculations in the media as to the ramifications of such a decision. Brands, companies and individuals whose search results display negative information about them are all now asking themselves one simple question: Can I ask for that information to be removed?

To give a short answer to a complex question: “No.” For those who would like a more comprehensive explanation, the answer has several aspects – legal, ethical and practical.

Organizations and persons hoping to have negative information about them removed from Google are going to be disappointed to discover that it simply isn’t possible right now. It will take years, if ever, for this to become a reality.

Legally and practically, the court’s decision must be approved by the 28 nations that make up the European Union. Legal issues arise, first, from the vague definition in the verdict about what types of information can be requested to be removed. Second, Google’s obligation to cooperate with the process – which will certainly require additional expenses for the Internet giant – are not clear.

The definition of the types of data that the directive allows to be removed from Google is too ambiguous. It includes “data [that] appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.” This definition is not clear or definitive enough and, most likely, will make it extremely difficult for a judge to reach a conclusion regarding the endless number of different circumstances related to personal data found on the Internet.

Second, ethically there is a conflict between the public’s right to know, freedom of expression and the right to be forgotten (which is the basis for the ruling). Under what circumstances does a person or an organization have the right to hide information? And, limiting the right to be forgotten just to individuals and to private or personal information about them will be tricky. It will be difficult to construct coherent laws that differentiate between data about a person versus data about an organization.

These ambiguities must be ironed out before the directive can go into effect.

Finally, there are the practical implications. Last year, Max Mosley, former president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), waged a court battle against Google to remove from its search results embarrassing images related to a sex scandal he was involved in. These images, taken from a video and originally appearing in the British tabloid “News of the World”, allegedly showed Mosley participating in a Nazi-themed orgy with five prostitutes (Mosley admitted to the orgy but denied that it was Nazi-themed). Despite Mosley winning several court cases, first against “News of the World” for breach of privacy and later against Google to have the images removed from its search results, the embarrassing pictures of Mosley are still there. Even mighty Google has not been able to completely remove this data from the Net. A simple search in Google images will reveal the offending pictures.

The ruling from the EU is interesting and important. It raises a necessary discussion about a person’s right to privacy versus the public’s right to know with regards to Google’s search results. Nevertheless, as things stand today, this directive is infeasible and will continue to be in the future.

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This entry was posted in ORM and tagged on May 15th, 2014 by Ran Blayer.

A Snapshot of Shame

Come with me for a trip down memory lane…

It is the evening of January 17th, 1998. 9:32 pm PST to be exact. The following history-changing headline goes live online:

Newsweek Kills Story on White House Intern X X X X Blockbuster report: 23-year Old, Former White House Intern, Sex Relationship with President[i]

And what would happen next would forever change the lives of at least two people: President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, but especially Monica Lewinsky.

This is an interesting story from an ORM perspective for two reasons. First, only about three days after the story broke on the website Drudge Report, newspapers throughout the US picked up on this juicy story.[ii] In fact, as the headline states, Newsweek decided not to run the story at all at first.

In 1998, print media and the Internet were less in sync. Today, we can only dream of having three days of grace to prepare ourselves for a media crisis.

Second, whether sooner or later, the world over learned of the steamy affair and Monica Lewinsky became one of the most (in)famous women in the US.

Looking back in a recent interview for Vanity Fair, Lewinsky claims, “[T]hanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet.”

Since that fateful night in 1998, public online humiliation has become commonplace – hardly worth batting an eye at.

However, Lewinsky’s recent comeback made me realize how desensitized we have become to public online shaming.

And with all the criticism and speculation about Lewinsky’s motives for her recent interview, at least one good thing might have come out of it – a bit more compassion for those whose names are dragged through the online mud and a realization of the devastation it can cause to a person’s life.

 



[i] Here are the original articles published on Drudge Report http://australianpolitics.com/1998/01/17/original-drudge-reports-lewinsky-scandal.html

 

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This entry was posted in ORM and tagged on May 14th, 2014 by Gonie Aram.

4 Steps for Taking Back Your Privacy Online

Many clients come to us because they don’t like what is written about them online. We help them by adding fresh, up-to-date content to the search results to offer a more balanced (and positive) image.

And then there are the clients who come to us because they don’t like that they are mentioned online. Period.

These are individuals who feel their privacy has been violated and companies who prefer to keep a low profile. Both the individuals and the companies are not ashamed of who they are or what they do but rather feel that publicity will hinder, rather than promote, their objectives.

But do we have a right to privacy online? And, more importantly, how can ORM help you protect your privacy?

So to answer the first question: theoretically (and legally) you do have a right to privacy. You have a right to keep your personal information private. Realistically and practically, though, you don’t.

Getting information removed from search engines is nearly impossible. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. Probably forever.

What you need to do to keep your privacy in the digital age is to control your online image.

You do this best by uploading content by you but not about you. That way when someone searches for you, they will only see what you want them to see.

How is this done?

1. Write about subjects that interest you on various platforms.  As the author, these posts will appear when someone searches for your name.  This could be a private blog on WordPress or articles on sites such as Squidoo or Hubpages. In the About the Author section, you can decide what and how much to divulge about yourself.

Be sure, though, that the platform lets you approve the comments.

2. Use social media to your advantage. Social media platforms generally rank highly in the search engines and can be used to push down unwanted results. Again, as with the tip above, tweet, post and share neutral, interesting information not about yourself but rather about your interests.  For example, if you are into fine art then tweet about a gallery opening or a new museum exhibition.

3. If you decide to use social media profiles to keep in touch with friends and family, make sure the privacy settings are at their strictest.

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This entry was posted in Marketing, ORM and tagged on March 25th, 2014 by Gonie Aram.

What I’ve Learned on Social Networks

In the course of my work, I’ve made a number of small mistakes on social media (haven’t we all?). Looking back, I probably could have prevented most of them with a bit more foresight. In any case, at least I’ve been able to learn something about the inner workings of the social media world. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way so maybe you won’t have to repeat my faux pas.

1. Attract the right people

 This is the key to creating a high-quality network. Your success on a social network primarily depends on the relationships which you build: on the people with whom you choose to be friends and on the things which you do there. People tend to forgetthat just like in our daily lives, also in the virtual world, the people you are friends with and how you interact with them is what truly matters.

You probably are acquainted with any number of social media junkies who follow and respond to everyone on Facebook. Being a social media junkie is a mistake. There is no value in following, responding and adding “likes” without making a distinction between them. It is better to be in touch only with people who have meaning for you. By doing so, you will enhance your relationship with your followers. There is no point in increasing the number of followers you have, just for the sake of having more friends. It’s meaningless.

In addition, only respond to posts which interest you. Talking aboutthings which do not really interest you, for the sake of populism, or in order to increase the number of followers you have, will lead you astray. Let your true me shine, and in this way, the “right” people, the ones truly interested in what you have to say, will follow you.

2. Aspire to hold meaningful conversations

Attimes, because we are so busy trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work on social networks, we forgetthe true purpose of it all. Social networks are intended to create relationships between people, and to allow people to interact with one another, despite geographical distances.

Thanks to Facebook, scientists from NASA, engineers, actors and artists – everybody can talk to one another. Just imagine yourselves at a global conference, attended by the most interesting people in the world and where you have the opportunity to sit down with everybody, face to face.

Social networks allow us to do precisely this. We can talk with people who genuinely interest us and inspire us. If you like the online advertising industry, then you can find other people in the industry and follow them and talk to them. You can ask them a question about a recent blog post or you can challenge them to a professional debate. And when you’re talking with experts in a particular field, and they answer you, then you are, in a certain sense, positioning yourself in their league.

Obviously, ittakes time to feel comfortable doing this but it is definitely a question of how you want to position yourself professionally.

3. Create true value for your friends or they will ignore you

In my opinion, this rule is basic. Everybody has something they truly love or are genuinely good at – their passion. Attimes, this might be more than one area. These are the things you can talk about for hours and hours on end, without stopping and without getting bored. Find your passion, and share it with your friends.

Why? Because there is no way more wonderful than this to become an expert in something, anything – photography, drawing, cinema … It might perhaps even be the silliestthing of all. Experts can all tell a whole load of stories, some of them silly and trivial, others less so: advice and tips, mistakes they’ve made; and so on and so forth (like this post). By sharing stories, you’re giving your friends something in return for their friendship. Once they perceive the value in being friends with you, this will make all the difference.

4. Maintain transparency and originality – create true relationships

We all have something special in us, something that we can use to help others: our expertise. However, you have to be careful –everyone today is spreading information, all the time. As a result, audiences have learned to separate out the experts from the wannabes. If it looks like you are trying too hard to impress others or that you don’t really understand the field in which you are presenting yourself as an expert, the fraud will eventually be exposed and your online image will be ruined.

And so, my personal philosophy goes as follows: be original and be genuine. Respond politely to people who hold discussions with you or who argue with your theories – these are the people who will stay in touch with you for the long term, as opposed to those who are merely adding a “like” to your posts without expressing any genuine interest in them. In addition, don’t forgetthat being transparent and being honest is not easy – it means that you need to admit your mistakes.

However, over time, being transparent and honest will create genuine and true relationships between you and the people following you. The most importantthing in the world of social networks is not concepts like going viral, exposure or “likes”. At the end of the day, only one thing really matters – relationships.

 

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This entry was posted in Marketing, ORM and tagged on February 24th, 2014 by Guy Katsovich.

Veribo presentation at SMX Israel

Veribo’s very own COO Paul Vesely presented at the prestigious annual Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Israel. SMX is held at the Inbal Hotel Jerusalem every year during January and draws a crowd of international experts in the fields of online marketing, inbound marketing, SEO, PPC and Social Media.

Paul presented on the panel that discussed online reputation management.

To see his presentation see below.

Online Reputation Management – SMX Israel 2014 – Paul Vesely, Veribo from Paul Vesely
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This entry was posted in ORM and tagged on January 30th, 2014 by Paul Vesely.

Do You Need to Prepare a Dark Site?

Crisis communications has become a field in itself.

Pre-Internet, only national governments had to plan ahead of time for disasters. Now every major corporation has a crisis communications expert and a crisis management team ready for the worst case scenario.

The Internet has shortened our attention span and also raised our expectations about how quickly and easily we have access to information – especially during a media crisis. Or, in other words, we want to know what is going – now.

On a more positive note, the Internet also offers companies instant access to the public through platforms for publically conveying messages. You just need to know how to effectively leverage them.

So how can a company respond with lightning speed when a media crisis occurs?

There are many steps that companies take ahead of time to prepare for a crisis. Companies prepare a dark site (one for the company website and one for social media sites). These sites can go immediately live and provide information to the public.
But what else?

Online reputation management, of course.

If you have an online reputation strategy, implementing crisis communications is all the easier. Having many types of online platforms set up provides multiple channels through which to reach your customers/audience and the general public.
Even more important: in the long run, if you control the search results for your company’s or brands’ names, you can promote certain sources of information over others.

Crisis management is all about taking control over the situation. Online reputation offers an extra level of control by being able to effectively use the online environment to your advantage.

We all wish there was no reason to prepare a dark site but it’s an imperfect world and better to plan ahead.

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This entry was posted in ORM and tagged on January 7th, 2014 by Gonie Aram.

“Strip-mining Human Society”: Privacy in Social Media

“Facebook is strip-mining human society. The idea of social sharing, in a context in which the service provider reads everything and watches everybody watch, is inherently unethical. Facebook should lean in and tell its users what it does.” Eben Moglen

Joseph Heller aptly wrote in Catch-22, “Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” He could have been writing about the Internet. The public is both paranoid and being watched.

Want proof?

Jeffery Kantor, a former US government contractor, is suing the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA Director, the Defense Secretary, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, et al for civil rights violations and disclosure of private information.  He is asking $13.8 million in compensatory damages and another $45 million in punitive damages.

Kantor supposedly was searching for information about how to build a radio controlled airplane when Google’s autocomplete feature changed the search to “how to build a radio controlled bomb.” And like flies to honey, the US government began spying on his every move. Kantor claims that a GPS antenna was placed on his car (to track his location), his library books monitored (to learn what he reads), his conversations followed (to know what he says), etc. He received the government surveillance red carpet treatment.

Most people aren’t deserving of such special government attention. But we are, nevertheless, constantly watched. Social media sites and search engines follow your every digital move: what you write, who you interact with (and who you don’t), what you like (and what you don’t), what you read, etc. When you tweet about something online, that shorter URL lets Twitter track who reads the article. Facebook, and other platforms, have the technology to save whatever you type, even posts you self-censored. Facebook has on file every IP address you ever accessed your account from.

Social media platforms and search engines know where we are, what we read, who we contact and even what we choose not to say (and without fancy spy equipment). This information is collected, studied and saved.

And we opt in to this. We trade our privacy for being able to share pictures of our pets with old high school friends.

Even more troubling, though, is that we also compromise the privacy of anyone we contact through social media or email.

As Eben Mogan points out, “Those who wish to earn off you want to define privacy as a thing you transact about with them, just the two of you.” But social networks are just that – networks. So ”…if you decide to live your social in a place where the creep who runs it monitors every social interaction, …[t]he result will not only be, of course, that you yourself will be subjected to the constant creepy inspection, but also that everybody you choose to socialize with there will be too.” According to Mogan, social media’s relentless data collection is strip-mining human society.

The question, then remains: Why is Kantor suing the US government for tens of millions of dollars when he probably voluntarily lets Facebook monitor the exact same information (where he is, what he reads and who he communicates with)?

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This entry was posted in Marketing, ORM and tagged , on December 30th, 2013 by Gonie Aram.
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