Friday, January 10, 2014

SimplePart December Update Part 2

SimplePart December Update: Part 2 of 3
Industry News

Google News

In December, Google busted three separate link building/selling schemes including Anglo Rank, and Rap Genius. These websites and systems buy and sell links to artificially increase rankings in Google’s search results. For a time, using a paid link-building strategy was very beneficial – of late, Google is targeting prominent players in this space and penalizing them, along with the websites that pay (or have paid in the past) for their services.

Have you seen Google’s Location History Browser? If you have an Android device, Google tracks where that device is minute by minute and maintains a log that goes back indefinitely. Using Google’s Location History Browser, you can now go in and have Google show you a track on a map of everywhere you (your device) has been, with minute accuracy. It is by using this data that Google knows where your home is, where you work, where you shop, etc.

Google’s email service Gmail will begin to show images by default on Desktop, iOS and Android. Now when a user opens an email, Google will reach back to the sender and download images. Those images will be stored by Google, and subsequent users who open an email calling on that same image will get it from Google’s cache instead of the sender. Many bulk emailing systems use images in emails to track when recipients open and view messages; with this change from Google, visibility into “messages opened” may be impacted.

Google, Intel’s 5th largest customer, is rumored to be considering making its own server processors for its datacenters. Says Google, “We are actively engaged in designing the world’s best infrastructure, this includes both hardware design (at all levels) and software design.” If true, this would significantly shake up the processor marketplace.

Audi and Google are reportedly working together to turn the Android (smartphone, netbook and tablet) operating system into an in-car entertainment platform. Mercedes Benz has also discussed possibilities of using Android for in-car entertainment – though along with BMW, GM, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Opel, Nissan, Infiniti, Honda, Volvo, Acura, Hyundai, Kia and Jaguar may be moving to Apple’s iOS. Apple has already unveiled a “vehicle dashboard” project driven by iOS, its phone and tablet operating system. Consider the possibilities of Google Search and Google Maps integrated into cars and trucks – both for end users, and for marketers.

In the last year, Google has purchased seven robotics companies. These companies build incredibly sophisticated humanoid devices (or components) and are now a part of Google’s new Robotics venture. Along with Google’s self-driving cars and other integrated (Google Glass, In-Car-Entertainment, etc) tech systems, it is clear that Google is moving well beyond Search.

Google has rolled out a new kind of search results for New Car searches. When searching for a new car, you now see a prominent sidebar that shows articles, MSRP pricing and features. This new, softer functionality appears to be replacing Google’s first attempt at new car shopping, which tried to show available inventory and generate leads for dealers. Included in this new functionality, Google will suggest “similar” cars based on what users have searched for in the past.

In an effort to thwart patent lawsuits by “patent troll” companies who own patents but do not produce products, the house passed the “Innovation Act” in December, a Google-backed initiative. This bill adds transparency to the process, gives defendants the ability to recoup lost expenses should they win, and gives tech vendors the ability to step in to protect end users in broad-scope litigation. This is a big deal in the technology arena, as many “common practice” concepts which are covered loosely by early patents are being used by “patent troll” companies to shake down companies of all sizes, as we’ve discussed in past newsletters.

The PageRank number that Google publishes for external consumption (which many thought had died completely back in February of 2013) unexpectedly updated. This is a mostly informational measure now, and represents a “one number” measure of how reputable Google feels your website is. It peaked in popularity in the link-buying years, when you wanted to be sure the website you were buying links on had a higher PageRank than your own, so some of it would flow to you as a result of the link you’d just bought.

Google has added paid ads driven by Google+ content, which show throughout Google properties. “Brands can now take any photo, video or hangout that they create .. and then pay Google to turn that into an ad for its network.” Think if these as one more kind of Google AdWords ad.


Amazon reportedly sold 426 items per second on Cyber Monday and added 1 million new Prime members during the third week of December.

More than 1,000 German Amazon workers went on strike on the 16th in a dispute over pay and working conditions. In Germany, Amazon’s second largest market, orders peaked on December 16th and shipments peaked on December 17th.

Amazon is now charging sales tax in Indiana, Nevada and Tennessee. This brings the total to 19 states – the levies from these last three are expected to generate more than $50m a year collectively in revenue, according to state officials.

Amazon is now using robots from Kiva Systems to bring actual shelves full of product to workers, a system which is believed may pare 20% to 40% off the $3.50 to $3.75 cost to fulfill a typical order. This is a reversal of typical systems where workers (and robots) walk aisles and pick products from shelves – but is expected to save Amazon between $458m and $916m annually.


Research by Stone Temple Consulting suggests that Facebook Likes and Shares do not currently impact Google Search rankings. In two separate studies (by the same team), no conclusive link was found between likes/shares and discovery, crawl or ranking by Google – though it was found that there were possible hooks for Google to do all of those things, and that Google already had 1.87b Facebook posts indexed.

As you may have seen (and heard), Facebook is testing in-feed auto playing video advertisements. These ads appear in-line in users news feeds and play automatically as they scroll into view.

Facebook now offering a Donate button, to make it easier for non-profits to take contributions. This new functionality requires that donors “save” a credit card on file with Facebook, which ultimately helps advance Facebook’s ecommerce initiatives by making it easier for these same donors to later make a purchase using Facebook’s system from an online shop.

Facebook has introduced a new Like/Share button that they say increases Likes and Shares by 5%. According to Facebook’s metrics, their buttons are viewed 22 billion times each day across the web.

Recent research out of the European Union suggests that Facebook isn’t cool any more among young people; as popularity of the social media service rises with adults, teens and young adults are going elsewhere. Facebook has made a great deal of press and based its valuation largely upon its ability to reach this younger demographic; it will be interesting to see how this shift changes the landscape.

Businesses using Facebook to market no longer show as easily or as often in organic results; will have to pay, says Facebook. According to research, “simply getting people to like a business page doesn’t mean the business will have any shot at engaging them in the future, even with great content.” According to Facebook, “we expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.” This suggests Facebook is transitioning the news feeds that users see even further towards paid results.

Facebook believes they can know your household income based on which websites you visit and who you interact with on the social network. Household income is a valuable piece of information for targeted online marketing for Facebook – they were just granted a patent by the USPTO for “inferring household income for users of a social networking system.”

Part 3 of the December Update will be posted on Monday January 13th.

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