10 Tips to Getting Found Online

Local SEO: 10 Tips to Getting Found Online

If you are a local business, it is time to start thinking about search engine optimization in terms of location. Search engine optimization is the process of improving your rankings in search results. Local SEO is important because of the rise of mobile devices and location settings and the use of Google’s localized search. Below are 10 tips to help your local business get found in search results.

10 TIPS TO GETTING FOUND

  1. Sort Out Your Directory ListingsAn online directory is an organized website listing, used by consumers to find local businesses in specific categories. Common directories include Yellowbook, Angie’s List and Yext. If you haven’t checked out your directory listings yet, give Moz.com/local a visit. This free tool will reveal which of your directory listings are complete, incomplete and inconsistent. From there, you can switch to the paid version to sort out your inconsistencies or work through them on your own.
  2. Optimize Google My BusinessGoogle defines their My Business tool as putting your business information on search, maps and Google+ so that customers can find you. By setting up an account and claiming your business onGoogle.com/business you can control how you display in search, your location in Google maps, online reviews, YouTube channel, Google+ page and more.
  3. Develop Location-Based Meta DataMeta data refers to the HTML tags used in code to communicate to search engines and users information about a particular page on your website. Common Meta tags include the Meta Page Title, Meta Page Description and Meta Keywords. If your website uses a content management system, chances are you have control over your Meta Data either built in to your CMS or available in an add-on. We recommend filling out the Meta Page Title and Meta Description tag for every page on your website. For helpful tips to get started, check out our blog on Meta Data Best Practices.
  4. Add Your Page to Facebook Professional ServicesFacebook Professional Services is a new feature that allows users to search for local businesses without leaving Facebook. Visit Facebook.com/services and search for your industry in your city. If you are not showing up on the page, you will want to check the categories and subcategories listed on your company Facebook page. These can be found by going to the ‘About’ tab and clicking on the ‘Page Info’ tab.;
  5. Try Out Foursquare/SwarmFoursquare has seen a lot of change over the past few years and today it consists of two apps that work together for a common purpose: promoting local businesses. The Foursquare app is used by companies to feature their businesses and by consumers to discover those businesses. The Swarm appis a consumer app used to ‘check in’ to those businesses in real time and share that information with their friends. There are currently more than 50 million people using these two apps each month (Foursquare). If you haven’t already, go to Foursquare.com, claim your business and optimize your account.
  6. Research Search Volume in Your AreaSearch volume, or the number of people who search for a keyword in a search engine in a given time period, is a key metric to consider when identifying your targeted keywords. By using Google AdWords Keyword Planner you can search for keywords with high search volume. The best part is that you cantarget this search volume by location and see how often a keyword is being searched in your city!
  7. Maintain a Locally-Focused BlogThere are three reasons why it is a good idea to maintain a locally-focused blog:
    • You may become the subject matter expert in your area
    • You can engage with local consumers
    • You can expand your brand awareness in your community

    Consider maintaining a locally-focused blog or writing a location-based blog post on occasion. You can write about anything from a local event, news story or how your company is involved in the community!

  8. Utilize Schema MarkupSchema markup is code that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. It tells the search engines what your data means, not just what it says. For example, you can use schema markup on event listings, reviews, news articles and more. As a local business, you can use schema markup to include your address in search results. For more information on schema markup, visit schema.org.
  9. Manage Your Online ReviewsHaving a grasp on what is being said about your company online is very important. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Search Engine Land). Online reviews live on a number of websites including Facebook, Yelp, Google My Business and more. Visit these sites and see what people are saying about your business. Whether the reviews or good or bad, the best course of action is to engage and take the conversation offline.
  10. Go ResponsiveAccording to Search Engine Land, 50% of local searches are carried out on mobile devices. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it is time to go responsive. Responsive design describes a website that dynamically resizes t fit the width of the device or browser that it is being displayed on. The great thing about responsive design is that it uses one codebase and one domain but you can still structure it to feature specific content on mobile devices, such as a map or phone number.

Microsoft built a datacenter that sat on the bottom of the Pacific ocean for three months

microsoft, datacenter, data center, sea, project natick, ocean, underwater data center, underwater datacenter, leona philpot

Our increased reliance on cloud-based services is forcing some in the datacenter industry to rethink their strategy. As you may know, it takes an incredible amount of energy to keep massive datacenters cool – so much so that companies like Facebook,Google and now Microsoft are experimenting with unconventional approaches to the common problem of heat.

Over the past year, Microsoft has been working on a research project known as Project Natick that involves operating a datacenter under water. In the case of the initial prototype, christened the Leona Philpot (named after a character from the Halo universe), Microsoft deployed it on the seafloor roughly one kilometer off the pacific coast.

The benefits of an underwater datacenter are aplenty. Aside from the obvious of using the cool ocean water to keep server temperatures under control, Microsoft says its underwater datacenters could be deployed within 90 days versus the two years it takes to build a datacenter on land.

What’s more, because much of the world’s population lives in urban areas near large bodies of water, latency could be delayed greatly compared to land-based datacenters that are typically built far away from populated areas.

As for the impact on the environment, Microsoft said they observed no heating of the marine environment beyond a few inches from the vessel.

Microsoft deployed Leona Philpot for a total of 105 days and said it was more successful than expected. One of the obvious concerns is a hardware failure as you can’t exactly send a technician out to the bottom of the ocean at midnight for a repair job. Fortunately, nothing went wrong during the trial. And with the slowing of Moore’s Law, servers will be replaced less often – another plus for the project.

Microsoft researchers are already designing a follow-up experiment that’ll be three times as large as Leona Philpot which measured eight feet in diameter.

Check your Google security settings, get 2 GB of free Drive storage

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There really aren’t any catches to this one: if you check your Google account’s security settings, Google will give you an extra 2 GB of free Google Drive storage to go on top of the 15 GB the service already offers for free.

To claim the free 2 GB, the process of checking your account security is incredibly simple. Firstly, you head to your security settings, where Google will ask you to review your recovery information. If the information listed there is correct, you can proceed to checking the list of devices connected to your account, where you should remove anything that looks unfamiliar.

The third step involves reviewing all the apps that have permission to access your Google account. Again, you’ll want to remove anything that looks out of place or that you don’t use anymore. After that, you have to check your app passwords, revoking anything that looks suspicious. And finally, you’ll be asked to review any two-step verification settings if you have enabled this feature on your Google account.

When you complete all the aforementioned steps, a small notice appears telling you that Google has added 2 GB of free Drive storage to your account to celebrate Safer Internet Day 2016. A quick check of Drive’s storage information suggests this free 2 GB of space does not expire.

If you want to claim your free 2 GB of storage, increasing the amount of free storage in your account to 17 GB, spend the two minutes to check your security settings before the promotion expires on February 18th.

Google will ban all Flash ads in 2017

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Google has announced that its entire advertising network, comprising of the Google Display Network and DoubleClick Digital Marketing, will be transitioning away from Flash-based ads to a 100% HTML5 solution over the next year.

The transition includes two firm deadlines: on June 30th, 2016, Google will stop accepting new Flash ads from advertisers; and on January 2nd, 2017, Google will stop displaying any Flash ads across its network. This means that in early 2017, Flash ads will effectively be banned from Google’s advertising network.

There is one exception to this ban, and that appears to be video ads, with the AdWords Google+ page stating “video ads built in Flash will not be impacted at this time.” Many video players around the web still rely on Flash, so it seems Google is waiting for more widespread adoption of HTML5 video players before it switches off support for Flash video ads.

For advertisers wanting to publish their ads in HTML5, the only ad format Google’s network will support, Google already provides a number of tools that make the transition from Flash easy. For users browsing the web, having one of the world’s largest web ad providers ditch Flash should improve the security and performance of your web browser.

There are still some steps to go before Flash has been completely eradicated, but it’s clear that everyone wants it gone as soon as possible. Even Adobe, who purchased Flash along with Macromedia in 2005, no longer wants to support it, having killed their authoring tool Flash Professional last year.

Google removes Adblock Fast app from Play Store, others to follow?

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Samsung earlier this week added support for ad blocking via its new content blocker extension API. What that means is third-party developers can now create apps that, when installed, block ads when using Samsung Internet Browser, the company’s own mobile web browser.

As you can imagine, third-party developers jumped at the opportunity and have since published ad-blocking apps on Google Play. Google, however, isn’t terribly thrilled with this development and is reportedly pulling such apps from its mobile store.

One of those yanked apps is Adblock Fast from startup Rocketship Apps. The app shot up the free charts in the Productivity category, amassing more than 50,000 installs and a 4.25 star rating this week before being pulled.

Rocketship Apps CEO Brian Kennish told TechCrunch that Google said the app was removed for violating “Section 4.4” of the Android Developer Distribution Agreement. That section states that developers aren’t allowed to publish apps that interfere with the operation of other services or apps.

In this case, Samsung has granted developers permission to block apps in its mobile browser but that apparently doesn’t matter to Google. Of course, that’s not surprising considering the bulk of Google’s revenue comes from its advertising business.

Interestingly enough, similar ad blockers like Crystal for Samsung Internet and Adblock Plus (Samsung Browser) are still available on Google Play. It’s unclear if they will remain live or if Google simply hasn’t got around to pulling them down yet.

Frinkiac is the Simpsons image search engine that you need in your life

search, fox, simpsons, the simpsons, simpsons quotes, frinkiac

In the near thirty years that the Simpsons has been around, the show’s numerous catchphrases and quotes have made their way into everyday life. But trying to find images from the show to match the quotes hasn’t always been easy; Google searches often offer grainy YouTube stills recorded straight from a TV. Now, a brilliant new search engine dedicated to the dysfunctional family has been released, and it’s named after everyone’s favorite professor: Frinkiac.

The online tool contains an amazing three million screengrabs from the Simpsons’ first fifteen seasons. As you start typing in a line from the show, the engine will display the corresponding images from the episode – the more you type, the more accurate your search result becomes. Then it’s just a matter of clicking on the picture you want and hitting ‘Make Meme,’ which will overlay the quote onto the image. Best of all, you can edit the text yourself.

The project is the work of Paul Kehrer, Sean Schulte and Allie Young. “We had the idea several years ago when we were quoting The Simpsons at each other all day long, and it was surprisingly difficult to find an image of the scenes we were quoting on Google,” Schulte said.

Kehrer explains on his website that the engine determines what are relevant screens to capture in a “fairly naive way.” Frinkiac cuts scenes into 100 equal-sized parts and compares the average color of each part to the screenshot before. If the total difference is large enough, the image is saved.

The engine pairs the quote with the image by searching through the subtitle files of each episode. Once it finds the corresponding text, it matches the subtitle line’s timecode with the timecode of the screenshot.

I’ve already used Frinkiac to capture a few glorious Simpsons moments (“feels like I’m wearing nothing at all!” and “Mmmm…erotic cakes” are two favorites) and it really is one of those things that you never knew you needed until it arrived.

Providing that Fox, which is notoriously protective of the Simpsons license, doesn’t take it down, Frinkiac could become the number one site for all your Simpsons meme needs. Good Glavin!

New gestures and voice commands, plus speaker support coming soon to Android Wear

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Android Wear users should be on the lookout for new ways to use Google’s wearable device platform. According to the Android Blog, there’s a firmware upgrade happening soon (“in the next few weeks”) that includes some new input and output features. Once the upgrade rolls out, Android Wear watches will take advantage of the functionality of their built-in speakers, as well as support new gestures and voice commands.

As far as gesture controls go, the big news is that gestures are expanding from the simple wrist flick. With the upgrade, after flicking to scroll through different cards, users can take action on them through pivoting their arm downward in a motion called a “push.” Reverse the motion to trigger a back command. And to get back to the home screen, just shake your wrist back-and-forth.

Use your voice to dictate messages to some of the apps on your smartwatch, including Hangouts, WhatsApp, and Telegram. And since speaker support is enabled in the upgrade, your Android Wear watch can be used as a Bluetooth speakerphone for tethered handsets. Watches with speakers compatible with this function include the Huawei Watch and 49mm Asus ZenWatch 2.

Excited? Look for the OS version 1.4.0. Don’t have a smartwatch? Just carry on with your day (I don’t have one either.)

Google is reportedly working on a standalone VR headset – no PC, console or laptop required

google, virtual reality, vr, vr headset, stand-alone vr headset

Last week, it was reported that Google would be releasing a device sometime later this year as a successor to its Cardboard virtual reality system; one that would supposedly feature a host of improvements over the cheap VR viewer, and be more like Samsung’s Gear VR headset.

Now, a report from the Wall Street Journal claims that in addition to working on this smartphone-powered headset, Google is also developing a VR first: a stand-alone device that requires no smartphone, computer or games console to power it.

The device will reportedly feature a display, outward-facing cameras (possibly depth-sensing ones like those used on Project Tango), and high-powered processors using chips from startup Movidius Inc, a company specializing in embedded machine vision.

Movidius acknowledged that it has a “business relationship” with Google, and said in a statement that it works with many companies on virtual reality and augmented reality devices, but it didn’t go into details.

Should the reports prove to be true, the headset would be another product from Google’s recently formed Virtual Reality division, which is headed by the company’s VP for product management, Clay Bavor.

With the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive requiring fairly beefy PCs to get the most out of them, and cheaper, smartphone-powered devices unable to match the quality of these headsets, Google’s potential stand-alone device could offer a good middle-ground between these two types of VR experiences.

The headset is reportedly in the early stages of development, so we may not see it until next year, but it’s yet another indication that tech companies view virtual reality as the future of the industry.

Can you outwit Google’s new photo-identifying neural network?

google, artificial intelligence, ai, maps, photos, planet, deep learning, neural network, geotags, geotagging

Google has unveiled a new neural network called PlaNet that’s capable of determining the location an image was captured.

To measure PlaNet’s accuracy, the team collected roughly 2.3 million geotagged images from Flickr and fed them through the network. The system was able to correctly identify images at street-level accuracy 3.6 percent of the time and city-level accuracy 10.1 percent of the time. Zooming out further, PlaNet nailed country-level accuracy 28.4 percent of the time and correctly guess the continent an image was taken on 48 percent of the time.

Google also pitted its neural network against 10 well-traveled humans using an online game that challenges players to pinpoint on a map where they believe an image was taken. Unsurprisingly, PlaNet got it right more often than its human counterparts.

While its accuracy is far from perfect, it highlights just how far such technology has come. Oh, and if you want to play the game yourself, you can do so by clicking here. Be sure to look for clues in the images – road signs, types of vehicles, architecture type, etc. – to give yourself the best shot.

Perhaps most impressive is the fact that the model uses a very small amount of memory. Tobias Weyand, a computer vision specialist with Google that worked on the project, told Technology Review that it utilizes just 377MB – far less than other methods that rely on gigabytes of data.

Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and others unite to support Apple in its court case against the DoJ

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Rivalry between massive technology firms can be pretty extreme at times, with many of them launching lawsuits against each other on a regular basis, so it’s rare for big companies to show support for their competitors. But nothing has united the tech community quite like Apple’s battle with the Department of Justice .

Now, it’s been revealed that several of these companies are planning to do more than just lend their vocal backing; Alphabet, Facebook, and Microsoft, along with several others, are planning to file a joint amicus brief supporting Apple in its court case.

During the continuing saga of Apple’s refusal to help authorities unlock the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, many big industry names, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, voiced their support for the Cupertino company.

It’s argued that what Apple is being ordered to do – essentially, build a backdoor to its own technology – is a step too far and sets a troubling precedent. Koum even said that “our freedom and our liberty is at stake.”

Other companies said to be included in the joint amicus brief include Amazon, Yahoo,Twitter, and cloud computing business Box. “The second the FBI unlocks this device, any sophisticated bad actor will move to another more secure device,” said Box CEO Aaron Levie. “We land squarely on the side of more security and more encryption.”

Some organizations are considering joining the amicus but haven’t yet committed to it, according to Buzzfeed. These include Slack and the trade group Internet Association. The deadline to file a friend-of-the court brief is March 3, and we’re likely to see several more firms and privacy groups joining the amicus brief before then.