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59

Information is a commodity. Corporations are passing around consumer behavioral profiles like brokers with stocks, and the vast majority of the American public is none the wiser of this market’s scope. Very few people actually check the permissions portion of the Google Play store page before downloading a new app, and who has time to pore over the tedious 48-page monstrosity that is the iTunes terms and conditions contract?


With the advent

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of wearables, ubiquitous computing, and widespread mobile usage, the individual’s market share of their own information is shrinking at an alarming rate. In response, a growing (and vocal) group of consumers is voicing its concerns about the impact of the effective end of privacy online. And guess what? It’s up to designers to address those concerns in meaningful ways to assuage consumer demand.


But how can such a Sisyphean feat be managed? In a world that demands personalized service at the cost of privacy, how can you create and manage a product that strikes the right balance between the two?


That’s a million dollar question, so let’s break it into more affordable chunks.


Transparency


The big problem with informed consent is the information. It’s your responsibility to be up front with your users as to what exactly they’re trading you in return for your product/service. Not just the cash flow, but the data stream as well. Where’s it going? What’s it being used for?


99.99% of all smartphone apps ask for permission to modify and delete the contents of a phone’s data storage. 99.9999% of the time that doesn’t mean it’s going to copy and paste contact info, photos, or personal correspondences. But that .0001% is mighty worrisome.


Let your users know exactly what you’re asking from them, and what you’ll do with their data. Advertise the fact that you’re not sharing it with corporate interests to line your pockets. And if you are, well, stop that. It’s annoying and you’re ruining the future.


How can you advertise the key points of your privacy policies? Well, you could take a cue from noted online retailer Zappos.com. Their “PROTECTING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION” page serves as a decent template for transparency.


Zappos Privacy Policy Page


They have clearly defined policies about what they will and won’t do to safeguard shopper information. For one, they promise never to “rent, sell or share” user data to anyone, and immediately below, they link to their privacy policy, which weighs in a bit heavy at over 2500 words, but is yet dwarfed by other more convoluted policies.


They also describe their efforts to safeguard user data from malicious hacking threats through the use of SSL tech and firewalls. Then they have an FAQ addressing commonly expressed security concerns. Finally, they have a 24/7 contact line to assure users of personal attention to their privacy queries.


Now it should be noted that this is a template for a good transparency practices, and not precisely a great example of it. The content and intention is there, so what’s missing?


Good UX.


The fine print is indeed a little too fine, the text is a bit too dense (at least where the actual privacy policy is concerned), and the page itself is buried within the fat footer on the main page.


So who does a better job?


CodePen has actually produces an attractively progressive solution.


CodePen Terms of Service


As you can see, CodePen has taken the time to produce two different versions of their ToS. A typical, lengthy bit of legalese on the left, and an easily readable layman’s version on the right. Providing these as a side by side comparison shows user appreciation and an emphasis on providing a positive UX.


This is all well and good for the traditional web browsing environment, but most of the problems with privacy these days stem from mobile usage. Let’s take a look at how mobile applications are taking advantage of the lag between common knowledge and current technology to make a profit off of private data.


Mobile Permissions


In the mobile space, the Google Play store does a decent job of letting users know what permissions they’re giving, whenever they download an app with its “Permission details” tab:


Instagram Mobile App Permissions


As you can see, Instagram is awfully nosy, but that’s no surprise. Instagram has come under fire for their privacy policies before. What’s perhaps more surprising, is the unbelievable ubiquity with which invasive data gathering is practiced in the mobile space. Compare Instagram’s permissions to another popular application you might have added to your smartphone’s repertoire:


Brightest Flashlight Free App Permissions


Why, pray tell, does a flashlight have any need for your location, photos/media/files, device ID and/or call information? I’ll give you a clue: it doesn’t.


“Brightest Flashlight Free” scoops up personal data and sells it to advertisers. The developer was actually sued in 2013 for having a poorly written privacy policy. One that did not disclose the apps malicious intentions to sell user data.


Now the policy is up to date, but the insidious data gathering and selling continues. Unfortunately, it isn’t the only flashlight application to engage in the same sort of dirty data tactics. The fact is, you have to do a surprising amount of research to find any application that doesn’t grab a bit more data than advertised, especially when the global market for mobile-user data approaches nearly $10 billion.


For your peace of mind, there is at least one example of an aptly named flashlight application which doesn’t sell your personal info to the highest bidder.


flashlight free no permissions


But don’t get too enthusiastic just yet. This is just one application. How many do you have downloaded on your smartphone? Chances are pretty good that you’re harboring a corporate spy on your mobile device.


Hell, even the Holy Bible takes your data:


Holy Bible App Permissions


Is nothing sacred? To the App developer’s credit, they’ve expressed publicly that they’ll never sell user data to third party interests, but it’s still a wakeup call.


Privacy and UX


What then, are some UX friendly solutions? Designers are forced to strike a balance. Apps need data to run more efficiently, and to better serve users. Yet users aren’t used to the concerns associated with the wholesale data permissions required of most applications. What kind of design patterns can be implemented to bring in a bit of harmony?


First and foremost, it’s important to be utilitarian in your data gathering. Offering informed consent is important, letting your users know what permissions they’re granting and why, but doing so in performant user flows is paramount.


For example, iOS has at least one up on Android with their “dynamic permissions.” This means iOS users have the option of switching up their permissions in-app, rather than having to decide all or nothing upon installation as with Android apps.


Cluster App User Permissions


http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/04/the-right-way-to-ask-users-for-ios-permissions/


Note how the Cluster application prompts the user to give access to their photos as their interacting with the application, and reassures them of exactly what the app will do. The user is fully informed, and offers their consent as a result of being asked for a certain level of trust.


All of this is accomplished while they’re aiming to achieve a goal within the app. This effectively moves permission granting to 100% because the developers have created a sense of comfort with the application’s inner workings. That’s what designing for privacy is all about: slowly introducing a user to the concept of shared data, and never taking undue advantage of an uninformed user.


Of course, this is just one facet of the privacy/UX conversation. Informing a user of what they’re allowing is important, but reassuring them that their data is secure is even more so.


Safeguarding User Data


Asking a user to trust your brand is essential to a modern business model, you’re trying to engender a trust based relationship with all of your visitors, after all. The real trick, however, is convincing users that their data is safe in your hands—in other words, it won’t be sold to or stolen by 3rd parties, be they legitimate corporations or malicious hackers.


We touched on this earlier with the Zappos example. Zappos reassures its shoppers with SSL, firewalls, and a personalized promise never to share or sell data. All of which should be adopted as industry standards and blatantly advertised to assuage privacy concerns.


Building these safeguards into your service/application/website/what-have-you is extremely important. To gain consumer trust is to first provide transparency in your own practices, and then to protect your users from the wolves at the gate.


Fortunately, data protection is a booming business with a myriad of effective solutions currently in play. Here are just a few of the popular cloud-based options:


Whatever security solutions you choose, the priorities remain the same. Build trust, and more importantly: actually deserve whatever trust you build.


It hardly needs to be stated, but the real key to a future where personal privacy still exists, is to actually be better people. The kind that can be trusted to hold sensitive data.


Is such a future still possible? Let us know what you think in the comment section.


Kyle Sanders is a member of SEOBook and founder of Complete Web Resources, an Austin-based SEO and digital marketing agency.


Categories: business
47
This analyzes the evolution of Google's Penguin Algorithm from its 2012 debut to its present status. Is Penguin due for a comeback and how will future adjustments improve its quality?
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When Apple Pay was released, it blew Google Wallet out of the water. A year later, the latter has been re-branded as Android Pay, a more formidable opponent, if not an improvement, to Apple Pay.
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Kirk Kerkorian was one of the most fascinating – though little-known – billionaires who ever lived. His life took many twists and turns, and though he is most known for investing in film studios and casinos, he tried his hand at a variety of different things. Earlier this year, at 98, one of the richest men in the United States passed away. He was once worth as much as $18 billion, though his estate shrunk down to $4 billion at the time of his death. What made Kerkorian so successful? What lessons can we learn from him? Here are 10
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Sometimes having that top 10 ranking isn’t enough – you need to look at your competitors, edit and evolve in order to enjoy the effects of a good organic CTR; gaining greater traffic volumes, exposing your brand to a greater volume of people and taking traffic away from your competitors. In this blog post I’m […]

The post rel="nofollow" href="http://white.net/blog/understand-optimise-organic-ctr/">Understanding & Optimising Your Organic CTR With Markup appeared first on rel="nofollow" href="http://white.net">White.net.

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Back in 2009 Google executives were scared of not being able to retain talent with stock options after Google's stock price cratered with the rest of the market & Google's ad revenue growth rate slid to zero. That led them to reprice employee stock options. That is as close as Google has come to a "near death" experience since their IPO. They've consistently grown & become more dominant.


In November of 2009 I cringed when I saw the future of SEO in Google SERPs

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a href="http://www.seobook.com/excuse-me-where-did-googles-organic-search-results-go">where the organic results were outright displaced & even some of the featured map listings had their phone numbers removed.


Investing in Search


In 2012 a Googler named Jon Rockway was more candid than Googlers are typically known for being: "SEO isn't good for users or the Internet at large. ... It's a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads, and Google is trying to fix the bug."


It isn't surprising Google greatly devalued keyword domain names & hit sites like eHow hard. And it isn't surprising Demand Media is laying off staff and is rumored to be exploring selling their sites. If deleting millions of articles from eHow doesn't drive a recovery, how much money can they lose on the rehab project before they should just let it go?


Breaking spirits works!


"If you want to stop spam, the most straight forward way to do it is to deny people money because they care about the money and that should be their end goal. But if you really want to stop spam, it is a little bit mean, but what you want to do, is break their spirits." - Matt Cutts


Through a constant ex-post-facto redefinition of "what is spam" to include most anything which is profitable, predictable & accessible, Google engineers work hard to "deny people money."


Over time SEO became harder & less predictable. The exception being Google investments like Thumbtack, in which case other's headwind became your tailwind & a list of techniques declared off limits became a strategy guidebook.


Communications got worse, Google stopped even pretending to help the ecosystem, and they went so far as claiming that even asking for a link was spam. All the while, as they were curbing third party investment into the ecosystem ("deny them money"), they work on PR for their various investments & renamed the company from Google to Alphabet so they can expand their scope of investments.


"We also like that it means alpha‑bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!" - Larry Page


From Do/Know/Go to Scrape/Displace/Monetize


It takes a lot of effort & most people are probably too lazy to do it, but if you look at the arch of Google's patents related to search quality, many of the early ones revolved around links. Then many focused on engagement related signals. Chrome & Android changed the pool of signals Google had access to. Things like Project Fi, Gogle Fiber, Nest, and Google's new OnHub router give them more of that juicy user data. Many of their recently approved patents revolve around expanding the knowledge graph so that they may outright displace the idea of having a neutral third party result set for an increasing share of the overall search pie.


Searchers can instead get bits of "knowledge" dressed in various flavors of ads.


This sort of displacement is having a significant impact on a variety of sites. But for most it is a slow bleed rather than an overnight sudden shift. In that sort of environment, even volunteer run sites will eventually atrophy. They will have fewer new users, and as some of the senior people leave, eventually fewer will rise through the ranks. Or perhaps a greater share of the overall ranks will be driven by money.


Jimmy Wales stated: “It is also false that ‘Wikipedia thrives on clicks,’ at least as compared to ad-revenue driven sites… The relationship between ‘clicks’ and the things we care about: community health and encyclopedia quality is not nothing, but it’s not as direct as some think.”


Most likely the relationship *is* quite direct, but there is a lagging impact. Today's major editors didn't join the site yesterday & take time to rise through the ranks.


As the big sites become more closed off the independent voices are pushed aside or outright disappear.


If Google works hard enough at prioritizing "deny people money" as a primary goal, then they will eventually get an index quality that reflects that lack of payment. Plenty of good looking & well-formatted content, but a mix of content which:


  • is monetized indirectly & in ways which are not clearly disclosed
  • has interstitial ads and slideshows where the ads look like the "next" button & the "next" button is colored the same color as the site's background
  • is done as "me too" micro-reporting with no incremental analysis
  • is algorithmically generated

Celebrating Search "Innovation"


There has been a general pattern in search innovation. Google introduces a new feature, pitches it as being the next big thing, gets people to adopt it, collects data on the impact of the feature, clamps down on selectively allowing it, perhaps removes the feature outright from organic search results, permanently adds the feature to their ad units.


This sort of pattern has happened so many times it is hard to count.


Google puts faces in search results for authorship & to promote Google+, Google realizes Google+ is a total loser & disconnects it, new ad units for local services show faces in the search results. What was distracting noise was removed, then it was re-introduced as part of an ad unit.


I'm confused didn't Google pull authorship cuz faces in the SERPS was a bad experience for the users? pic.twitter.com/mI2NdyGzd7— Michael Gray (@graywolf) July 31, 2015


The same sort of deal exists elsewhere. Google acquires YouTube, launches universal search, offers video snippets, increases size of video snippets. Then video snippets get removed from most listings "because noise." YouTube gets enlarged video snippets. And, after removing the "noise" of video stills in the search results Google is exploring testing video ads in the search results.


Some sites which bundle software got penalized in organic search and are not even allowed to buy AdWords ads. At an extreme degree, sites which bundled no software, but simply didn't link to an End User Agreement (EULA) from the download page were penalized. Which leads to uncomfortable conversations like this one:


Google Support: I looked through this, and it seemed that one of the issues was a lack of an End User Agreement (EULA)


Simtec: An EULA is displayed by the setup program before installing starts. Also, the end user license agreements are linked to from here http://www.httpwatch.com/buy/orderingfaq.aspx#licensetypes


Google Support: Hmm, They do want it on the download page itself


Simtec: How come there isn’t one here? google.co.uk/chrome/browser/desktop/


Google Support: LOL


Simtec: No really?


Google Support: That’s a great question


Of course, it goes without saying that much of the Google Chrome install base came from negative option software bundling on Adobe Flash security updates.



Google claimed helpful hotel affiliate sites should be rated as spam, then they put their own affiliate ads in hotel search results & even recommended hotel searches in the knowledge graph on city name searches.


Google created a penalty for sites which have an ad heavy interface. Many of Google's search results are nothing but ads for the entire first screen.


Google search engineers have recently started complaining about interstitial ads & suggested they might create a "relevancy" signal based on users not liking those. At the same time, an increasing number of YouTube videos have unskippable pre-roll ads. And the volume of YouTube ad views is so large that it is heavily driving down Google's aggregate ad click price. On top of this, Google also offers a survey tool which publishers can lock content behind & requires users to answer a question before they can see the full article they just saw ranking in the search results.


"Everything is possible, but nothing is real." - Living Colour


Blue Ocean Opportunity


Amid the growing ecosystem instability & increasing hypocrisy, there have perhaps been only a couple "blue ocean" areas left in organic search: local search & brand.


And it appears Google might be well on their way in trying to take those away.


For years brand has been the solution to almost any SEO problem.


I wonder how many SEOs working for big brands have done absolutely nothing of value since 2012 yet still look like geniuses to executives.— Ross Hudgens (@RossHudgens) August 7, 2015


But Google has been increasing the cost of owning a brand. They are testing other ad formats to drive branded search clicks through more expensive ad formats like PLAs & they have been drastically increasing brand CPCs on text ads. And while that second topic has recently gained broader awareness, it has been a trend for years now: "Over the last 12 months, Brand CPCs on Google have increased 80%" - George Michie, July 30, 2013.


There are other subtle ways Google has attacked brand, including:


  • penalties on many of the affiliates of those brands
  • launching their own vertical search ad offerings in key big-money verticals
  • investing billions in "disruptive" start ups which are exempt from the algorithmic risks other players must deal with
  • allowing competitors to target competing brands not only within the search results, but also as custom affinity audiences
  • linking to competing businesses in the knowledge graph

Google has recently dialed up monetization of local search quite aggressively as well. I've long highlighted how mobile search results are ad heavy & have grown increasingly so over time. Google has recently announced call only ad formats, a buy button for mobile ads, local service provider ads, appointment scheduling in the SERPs, direct hotel booking, etc.


And, in addition to all the above new ad formats, recently it was noticed Google is now showing 3 ads on mobile devices even for terms without much commercial intent, like [craft beer].


I like how this new-ish search box takes up a ton of space and puts all these ads right in the prime viewing area pic.twitter.com/CcYdW118gf— Jared McKiernan (@jaredmckiernan) August 18, 2015


Now that the mobile search interface is literally nothing but ads above the fold, early data shows a significant increase in mobile ad clicks. Of course it doesn't matter if there are 2 or 3 ads, if Google shows ad extensions on SERPs with only 2 ads to ensure they drive the organic results "out of sight, out of mind."


Earlier this month it was also noticed Google replaced 7-pack local results with 3-pack local results for many more search queries, even on desktop search results. On some of these results they only show a call button, on others they show links to sites. It is a stark contrast to the vast array of arbitrary (and even automated) ad extensions in AdWords.


Why would they determine users want to see links to the websites & the phone numbers, then decide overnight users don't want those?


Why would Google determine for many years that 7 is a good number of results to show, and then overnight shift to showing 3?


If Google listed 7 ads in a row people might notice the absurdity of it and complain. But if Google only shows 3 results, then they can quickly convert it into an ad unit with little blowback.


You don't have to be a country music fan to know the Austin SEO limits in a search result where the local results are now payola.



Try not to hurt your back while looking down for the organic search results!


Here are two tips to ensure any SEO success isn't ethereal: don't be nearby, and don't be a business. :D


Categories: google
27
Search marketing shopping campaigns like those used for Google Shopping can improve strategy and increase profit by utilizing the economic principles of marginal profit optimization.
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In spite of the transient nature of this ever-evolving and converging field, here are five skills that will allow digital marketers to adapt and thrive as hybrid professionals.
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I was a moderator on Digital Point forums back in 2007 when I heard about this John Reese guy.  One of the other moderators had a VB plugin and was blown away when Jon promoted it and he sold over 10,000 units of it. This was at the time I just had launched AuctionAds and I wanted to get this guy onboard. So I looked up John Reese’s information at DigitalPoint and shot him an email.  His first response was something like “How the hell did you get my personal email?”.  LOL.  So I told him.   He offered to
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The number of businesses that now ship or trade in multiple countries is growing by the day. No longer is it just the large corporations that have the ability to ship their products at competitive rates and increase their returns. Although many have increased their international revenue streams, the majority of brands large and small neglect […]

The post rel="nofollow" href="http://white.net/blog/international-seo-5-basic-seo-issues-you-should-be-considering/">International SEO: 5 Basic SEO Issues You Should be Considering appeared first on rel="nofollow" hre

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f="http://white.net">White.net.

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