December 5, 2011

Life in a Day: Online TV platforms.

A life in a day is a movie that was produced by the Scott brothers and Directed by Kevin Macdonald, an Oscar-winning director. Whats most interesting about it are the cast members - all video was submitted by Users from Youtube.  Everyone was instructed to submit a video of themselves on that particular day, 24th July, 2010 and over 80,000 people did.   Here is the 90 minute video...

The movie is being promoted by Google on December 5, 2011

Screen Shot of Google promoting 'Life in a Day'
 In as much as I think the movie had an appealing concept what strikes me most is that Google is promoting the youtube link on its homepage.  And as soon as you click on the link, the obvious redesign on youtube is apparent.

Google is setting the stage for Google TV or the relaunch of it.  When Google first launched Google TV - the mistake it made was trying to copy its 'search' based algorithms that did not work for video (Link to 10 Google Products that failed).  Apple has a better understanding of video content and that shows in the wider use of its product, Apple TV.  I am currently an owner of Apple TV but my issue of it is the same as the majority - it is not practical to buy each and every television show - Apple TV needs a rethink of its price structuring in order to really impact a bigger majority of Users.  Thats why I am excited at the possibilities of Google TV.  If Google TV can come back to life and seriously provide reasonable content on youtube and since Google is already User-centric I have no doubt that this will prove a worthy adversary to Apple TV.

December 3, 2011

Does the new Google Freshness Algorithm affect us in Cayman?

Freshness Upate (reminds me of Mentos)
Mid November 2011, Google announced its most recent algorithm changes.  But my question is how does it affect websites in the Cayman Islands?  Well, here is a breakdown...

  • The first change is in Cross-language information retrieval - we are not affected at all because we are an English speaking nation.  All our websites are already in english and do not need further translation.  
  • The second change is in snippets.  (the description of your results page) This would affect your website because Google is now going to use relevant text on your content pages vs. using either your header or menu content.  The solution for this is to have relevant robust content on each page and not to focus on Menus or Headers as much.
  • Less Emphasis on boilerplate anchors - This will probably affect your website if you have multiple links pointing to it using boilerplate anchors.  I just remove the boilerplate-like anchors on as a result of this new update.  
  • As a result of Yandex's popularity in Europe (Russia to be specific) Google has stepped up in improving lengthy auto-complete predictions in Russian (also because Russian has very long words).  This practice is already the norm in English.  Cayman is not affected by this unless you are a user and your searches are lengthy.  
  • If you are an applications developer living in the Cayman Islands, then you are affected by this freshness update as now, Google will be providing rich snippets including costs, user reviews, etc. within returned results.  If you are not an applications developer but a User looking for applications, this change will benefit you tremendously.
  • The latest algorithm is also retiring a signal in image search.  Again,  unless you are a photographer who has done alot of image optimization (like me) you will not be affected by this update.  They have retired a signal related to images that has references from many online documents.
  • Fresher Content - this update was announced earlier in the month and affects 6 - 10 % of searches.  The freshness update on Caffeine enables more accurate and 'fresher' content to be indexed within minutes of getting launched live.  Since Search Engines rely on "old" data for trustworthiness, I think this freshness update is genius! 
  • "Official" pages are given more importance - same as before but on an even higher scale.  This change affects you if you work for Government or any other "Official" Website.  
  • Date restricted queries - More relevant results will now show up if you specify a date query.  Are we affected by this?  Only if you search for specific dates but locally, not so much.
  • Prediction fixes for how autocomplete handles queries that contain non-latin characters.  Again, we are not affected by this unless you search using Hebrew, Russian and Arabic.  
For the most part, the freshness update really is a rethink of how Google handles content.  I for one believe it is about time Google provides fresher and more relevant content.  As a professional working in the Search industry it is sometimes frustrating to have to weed out older content for what is new and relevant and because of this update, it will be easier for me to find content faster. 

How do you feel about this freshness update?  

December 1, 2011

The Future of Search

As users, we have been very demanding of Google.  We have expected them to ensure that we find what we are looking for within split seconds of clicking on the search bar.  And for the most part, Google has delivered.  There are of course big issues that have happened  and other issues that continue to happen and thats only because no one company is perfect.

If I didn't have a background in website development, I would probably be taking Google for granted.  If my professional career did not involve a deep understanding of all of Google's algorithms - I possibly wouldn't care about their history or their future.  I would probably be more excited about Voice Search and the Apple iPhone 4s' Siri Personal Assistant.

Here is a video that was recently released by Google on Youtube and it talks about their evolution.  Its a nice look back at what they have achieved and what they want to achieve in the future.  Its very inspiring and at the same time it makes you think of the possibilities of the future of search.

As a professional working in the SEO Industry, I have a gut feeling that the future of search is in Voice Search and it was bound to come to that.  It may perhaps have been fast tracked by the acquisition of Siri by Apple and integrated into the very cool iPhone product but that is what Apple is good at - integrating environments, not search.

If Apple wants a share of the Search Market via Siri, it has to catch up to the progress of Google in terms of understanding what users expect to see.  The newly launched Siri on the iPhone 4s has already caused quite a stir in its inability to return expected results.  Which is a shame because its not getting as much air time for the things that it can do but for the things that it cannot do.

As an SEO professional I am very excited to think of the possibilities of Voice Search.  Will the same search engine algorithms govern the voice search platforms?  It is indeed, quite an exciting time to be involved in the Search Industry.