Weekly Digital News Roundup: May 14 – 18
- Google’s Penguin update sought to downplay sites suspected of artificially boosting their rankings. Unfortunately, some small businesses report being caught in the crossfire as their rankings have dipped in the past few weeks.
- As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Google declines to share specifics of its search-ranking algorithm, but paid links and low-quality website links are definitely a big no-no. Google maintains that businesses which follow the company’s published algorithm guidelines shouldn’t be negatively affected, especially since “the Penguin algorithm update was designed to reduce Web span, which is when websites try to get a higher search ranking than they deserve by deceiving or manipulating search engines,” says Googler Matt Cutts.
- Still, the effects of Penguin are causing many small business websites to dip in rankings, like Andrew Strauss’ company, Oh My Dog Supplies LLC. The company has experienced such a rankings dip that Strauss has seen a 96% drop in web traffic since the update despite never having succumbed to keyword stuffing – and Oh My Dog Supplies isn’t alone. Other small businesses are seeking to contact lower-quality sites that are linking to their business pages in an effort to reduce any connection to “spammy” pages targeted by Penguin.
Twitter Announces “Do Not Track” Feature
- Twitter recently announced a “Do Not Track” option that will allow users to opt out of being tracked by the company.
- According to Mashable, users will be able to implement the feature by enabling Do Not Track in supporting browsers. The tool will block Twitter from collecting information about users via cookies.
- “This move comes after the FTC released a report in March calling on designers of Internet browsers to stop allowing websites to collect data about users,” Mashable reports. The biggest social media giant, Facebook, currently does not have a similar Do Not Track feature.
Google is Now Scary-Smart
- The term “semantic web” has been circulating the web for a while now, but Google has finally actualized this sci-fi phrase. The “Knowledge Graph” is set to roll out across all Google Search tools. It’s awesome, kind of scary, and just may change search as we know it.
- Implemented last week, a big portion of Google Search results are now working with you to intuit what you mean when you type in a search entry. An ambiguous query like “Kings” could refer to royalty, sports, or a TV show, so a new window will now appear on the right side of your result asking you what you meant. Clicking on an option will filter results based on your intuited query.
- Google Fellow Ben Gomes describes the change as Google switching “from strings to things.” To create a knowledge base of things, Google is tapping into an array of databases, including Freebase, Wikipedia, Google Local, Google Maps, and Google Shopping. At the moment, Google’s Knowledge Graph has over 500 million people, places, and things with at least 3.5 billion attributes. Google, you crazy. Here’s a nifty video if you want to learn more about it: