Leap Year 2012 Google Doodle Frogs Share Stage With Gioachino Rossini


The frogs are back, and this time it’s musical. Today’s leap year Google Doodle on Google’s homepage marks two occasions: the extra day that shows up almost every four years on February 29, and the birthday of composer Gioachino Rossini.

A quartet of frogs appear before a simple, non-interactive black Google logo on a grassy stage drawn to pay tribute to Rossini’s comic opera “The Barber of Seville.” Rossini became a leap year baby when he was born on this date in 1792. Born into a musical family, the famous Italian composer wrote 39 operas, including “William Tell”.

Leap days, which keep our calendars in line with the sun, generally happen every four years (i.e., for years that end in ’04, ’08, ’12 … ’92, ’96); however, years ending in ’00 only have a leap day every 400 years. That’s why 2000 had a leap day, but 1900 didn’t. Barring a mass extinction and assuming people are still using the Gregorian calendar, the next leap day in a ’00 year will be in 2400.

Google has added “leap” frogs to its logo, in much simpler form, twice before: in 2004 and 2008.





Happy Leap Day!

Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2155925/Leap-Year-2012-Google-Doodle-Frogs-Share-Stage-With-Gioachino-Rossini


Google Changes How It Evaluates Links

Google announced a bunch of changes it made to its algorithm over the course of February, and some of those changes are more interesting than others.

So far, we’ve taken a closer look at the increased sensitivity of the Panda update, some location-based changes to YouTube suggestions, and the increased importance of image search optimization. Another very interesting entry to Google’s list is:

Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.

It would, of course, be helpful to know some more specifics about this method of link analysis, but that’s probably one of those things that Google would rather play a bit closer to their chest than some of their other signals. Google can’t have people going out and exploiting that information and gaming the results, now could they? That could be a big “bug” that could end up hurting that search quality they’re trying so hard to maintain.

I’m sure there will be plenty of theories and speculation regarding how Google is analyzing links, just as there has been since the dawn of PageRank.

I doubt this new change will bring about any major findings in SEO, but it’s interesting to know that such a change was made – one that removes something that Google has been using for “several years”. One has to wonder if this will have a major impact on the PageRank of sites around the web.

Source: http://www.webpronews.com/google-changes-how-it-evaluates-links-2012-02

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Google Dumping Clearwire Stake


Google will sell its 6.5 percent stake in wireless Internet service provider Clearwire for roughly $47 million (or a discounted stock price of $1.60 per share), according to an SEC filing. Google initially invested $500 million in the company in 2008.

“The SEC documentation explains Google’s exit from Clearwire as an act of rebalancing its portfolio of investments, but a more candid assessment would be that Google expects Clearwire to sink beneath its mountain of debt and is getting out while it can,” the Verge reported. “Sales of Google’s [29.4 million] shares in Clearwire will begin on February 27th, with the other equity holders getting first dibs, and should close by the end of March.”

Clearwire has lost nearly $2 billion in the past four years, CNET noted, while its stock has tumbled 56 percent in the past year, according to Bloomberg.

In 2008 Google, Intel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks invested a combined $3.2 billion. At the time, Google said it was investing in the “future of the open Internet”.

As part of the deal, Google was to provide search and applications to a new nationwide wireless broadband network and jointly create an “Internet protocol to work with mobile broadband devices (including Android-powered devices) and implementing other open network practices and policies.” The WiMax technology never caught on, however.

But now Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility is nearing completion, and TechCrunchspeculates Google may be deciding to focus on “devices and services rather than delivery.”

Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2155182/Google-Dumping-Clearwire-Stake

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Google Adding Improvement To Related Image Searches

Google is bringing an improvement to their image search function. Spoiler: It’s a really good improvement.

Peter Linsley, product manager for Google, detailed today on the official Google blog the change coming to image search over the next few weeks.

Linsley reminds everybody about the related search links in blue that dot the top of every image search. If you were too busy trying to find that one hilarious picture of a cat, you may have missed them. Incidentally, they may have helped you find that lolcat faster as the point is to refine your search results with other commonly searched terms.

When clicking on the related search links before, you were stuck not knowing what images may pop up until you reach the next page. The improvement makes that little problem a thing of the past. Whenever you hover your mouse over one of the related search links, a small panel will pop up showing the first few image results from that search.

Linsley uses the example of searching for Greece and then hovering over the related search for Santorini, Greece. This will allow any would be tourists to confirm if that is the search they want without having to go to the actual page.


The improvement should really quicken the pace whenever you’re looking for funny pictures of cats. I know that typing in “lolcats” doesn’t always give you what you may want. With this new feature, it should make it easier to find the very specific “lolcats computer” pictures.

Source: http://www.webpronews.com/google-image-search-2012-02

Google Is Onboard For More Internet Simplicity

The white House has introduced a newonline privacy protection bill. The bill aims to give consumers a broader understanding of how their privacy can be protected and also give them the tools to do it. While some believe the recent government interest in online privacy may have been spurred on by Google’s recent announcement of a new unified privacy policy, Google themselves have come foreword to welcome the bill and pledge their support (Perhaps in an effort to save face after the backlash their new policies created).

Here are a few segments from Google’s Public Policy Blog posted by Susan Wojcicki, SVP, Advertising:

“There’s been a lot of debate over the last few years about personalization on the web. We believe that tailoring your web experience — for example by showing you more relevant, interest-based ads, or making it easy to recommend stuff you like to friends — is a good thing. We also believe that the best way to protect your privacy is to enable you to exercise choice through meaningful product controls. That said, given the number of different browsers and products available online today — many of which have different privacy controls — we recognize that it can get confusing.”

“So we’re pleased to sign up to today’s industry-wide agreement (you can read the details here) — put together by the White House, the Federal Trade Commission and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), which represents over 90 percent of all online advertising in the U.S — to create a simpler, more unified approach to privacy on the web.”

“We look forward to working with our industry partners, the White House, the FTC, the DAA and all the major browsers including Google Chrome, to adopt a broadly consistent approach to these controls — rather than the situation today where every browser sets its own defaults, policies, and exceptions. In particular, we are pleased that today’s agreement will ensure that users are given an explicit choice, and be fully informed of the available options.”

It is not clear if this changes anything for Google who was all set to roll out their new policies early in March.I look forward to seeing what else comes out of this new privacy protection bill from the White House. Google and Wojcicki leave us with these words about the bill:

“This agreement will not solve all the privacy issues users face on the web today. However, it represents a meaningful step forward in privacy controls for users. We look forward to making this happen.”

Source: http://www.webpronews.com/google-is-onboard-for-more-internet-simplicity-2012-02

Google Flight Search Comes To Mobile

Today, Google wants to make it easier to find flights on your mobile device, as they have announced that their Flight Search feature has come to Android and iOS devices. Now, when you search “flights from X to X” on your mobile device, you’ll see the same Flight Search box that you’ve seen on your desktop for a few months now.

Let’s say you search “flights from Chicago to Daytona” on your phone, the Flight Search box will now appear just below the ads. There, you can edit your departure dates and click on the flight links for more information.

From the Google Inside Search blog:

The Flight Search feature on mobile browsers offers all the benefits of Flight Search on desktop:

  • Find flights quickly with results that load instantly and a list that’s easy to scan.
  • Discover places to go on a map – see ticket prices for various destinations by surfing the map. You can filter by price, airline, or flight duration.
  • Find the best time to go – Click the calendar icon to see what dates will get you low prices.

Google unveiled Flight Search back in September of 2011, and at that time they were available only when a user clicked the “flights” option on the left-hand box on the results page. In December, Google integrated the Flight Search box into the search results, as long as you search the right phrase (flights from X to X).

Soon after that, travel websites complained that the Flight Search box was pushing down their links on SERPs. They said that since they rely on Google for 10%-20% of their traffic, this was a major inconvenience.

Source: http://www.webpronews.com/google-flight-search-comes-to-mobile-2012-02

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The One Thing You Absolutely Need To Know About Writing For The Web

Titles are incredibly important when you’re writing for the web.

Startup Stats CEO Nick O’Neill wrote an interesting blog post discussing the importance of titling articles on the Internet in which he looks at an example of a New York Times story, which Forbes also covered with a different title, only to see more shares and traffic than the original piece.

The original title was: “How Companies Learn Your Secrets”

The Forbes title was: “How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did”

I don’t think the original was too bad, and apparently, it got a fair amount of traffic too, but the Forbes version is certainly more provocative.

I’m sure the traditional media outlets who call blogging about stories that already exist stealing will view this as an example of a publication “stealing” the work of others, and in this case, the Forbes article did borrow pretty liberally from the original source, though it did credit and link to thee NYT (Again, this is Forbes. Not just some blog.). However, there is a different point being made here, showing where the original sources can drop the ball.

I’ll say it again. Titles are incredibly important on the web. It depends on the goal you’re trying to reach with your writing, but titling can make all the difference.

Are you trying to gain traffic from search engines? You better think about what people are searching for, or what they would be searching for to get to your article. Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool is actually really good at helping you determine this.

Or maybe it’s the social traffic you’re after. You want people to share your content. There’s always the sensationalistic approach. The controversial titles. The titles that promise to give you a reason (or 10 reasons) why whatever this article is about will “absolutely change your life”. These things may seem cheesy sometimes, but people do gravitate towards these kinds of headlines, and share them.

This line by O’Neill pretty much sums it up: “The reality is that in the world of newsfeeds and streams, titles matter more than ever before. The best content in the world will fall flat without a great title.”

Consider all of the ways people are consuming content online these days. It’s not like when you just bought a newspaper and read the stories that were printed because they were the ones that were there. People are getting stories through Email, Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, Google Reader, Google Google News, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, and many, many more social services, aggregators, etc.

SEO is still a factor, but it’s not the only factor. In fact, social is a factor of that factor.

The main thing to remember is that the right title can mean the difference between a little bit of traffic and your site getting slashdotted.

Source: http://www.webpronews.com/the-one-thing-you-absolutely-need-to-know-about-writing-for-the-web-2012-02