Fastest Way to Shop: Amazon Dash Button

April 17th, 2015

amazon dash button

Now you can press the Amazon Dash button and get your regular shopping supplies delivered without having to login to Amazon, browse the website, pay online and choose from a…

Read full original article at Fastest Way to Shop: Amazon Dash Button

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Quick Online Tips

Google Mobile Search On Android Will Now Recommend Apps To Install

April 16th, 2015

Even Android apps that are not installed on your device can now benefit from the mobile algorithm if you use App Indexing. Google will encourage the mobile searcher to install those apps.

The post Google Mobile Search On Android Will Now Recommend Apps To Install appeared first on Search Engine…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Consensus Bias

April 15th, 2015

The Truth About Subjective Truths

A few months ago there was an article in New Scientist about Google’s research paper on potentially ranking sites based on how factual their content is. The idea is generally and genuinely absurd.

  • You can’t copyright facts, which means that if this were a primary ranking signal & people focused on it then they would be optimizing their site to be scraped-n-displaced into the knowledge graph. Some people may sugar coat the knowledge graph and rich answers as opportunity, but it is Google outsourcing the cost of editorial labor while reaping the rewards.

  • If Google is going to scrape, displace & monetize data sets, then the only ways to really profit are:
    • focus on creating the types of content which can’t be easily scraped-n-displaced, or
    • create proprietary metrics of your own, such that if they scrape them (and don’t cheat by hiding the source) they are marketing you
  • In some areas (especially religion and politics) certain facts are verboten & people prefer things which provide confirmation bias of their pre-existing beliefs. End user usage data creates a “relevancy” signal out of comfortable false facts and personalization reinforces it.
  • In some areas well known “facts” are sponsored falsehoods. In other areas some things slip through the cracks.
  • In some areas Google changes what is considered fact based on where you are located.
  • Those who have enough money can create their own facts. It might be painting the perception of a landscape, hiring thousands of low waged workers to manipulate public perception on key issues and new technologies, or more sophisticated forms of social network analysis and manipulation to manipulate public perceptions.
  • The previously mentioned links were governmental efforts. However such strategies are more common in the commercial market. Consider how Google has sponsored academic conferences while explicitly telling the people who put them on to hide the sponsorship as part of their lobbying efforts.
  • Then there is the blurry area where government and commerce fuse, like when Google put about a half-dozen home team players in key governmental positions during the FTC investigation of Google. Google claimed lobbying was disgusting until they experienced the ROI firsthand.
  • In some areas “facts” are backward looking views of the market which are framed, distorted & intentionally incomplete. There was a significant gap between internal voices and external messaging in the run up to the recent financial crisis. Even large & generally trustworthy organizations have some serious skeletons in their closets.
  • In other areas the inconvenient facts get washed away over time by money.

For a search engine to be driven primarily by group think (see unity100′s posts here) is the death of diversity.

Less Diversity, More Consolidation

The problem is rarely attributed to Google, but as ecosystem diversity has declined (and entire segments of the ecosystem are unprofitable to service), more people are writing things like: “The market for helping small businesses maintain a home online isn’t one with growing profits – or, for the most part, any profits. It’s one that’s heading for a bloody period of consolidation.”

As companies grow in power the power gets monetized. If you can manipulate people without appearing to do so you can make a lot of money.

We Just Listen to the Data (Ish)

As Google sucks up more data, aggregates intent, and scrapes-n-displaces the ecosystem they get air cover for some of their gray area behaviors by claiming things are driven by the data & putting the user first.

Those “data” and altruism claims from Google recently fell flat on their face when the Wall Street Journal published a number of articles about a leaked FTC document.

  • How Google Skewed Search Results
  • Inside the U.S. Antitrust Probe of Google
  • Key quotes from the document from the WSJ & more from Danny Sullivan
  • The PDF document is located here.

That PDF has all sorts of goodies in it about things like blocking competition, signing a low margin deal with AOL to keep monopoly marketshare (while also noting the general philosophy outside of a few key deals was to squeeze down on partners), scraping content and ratings from competing sites, Google force inserting itself in certain verticals anytime select competitors ranked in the organic result set, etc.

As damning as the above evidence is, more will soon be brought to light as the EU ramps up their formal statement of objection, as Google is less politically connected in Europe than they are in the United States:

“On Nov. 6, 2012, the night of Mr. Obama’s re-election, Mr. Schmidt was personally overseeing a voter-turnout software system for Mr. Obama. A few weeks later, Ms. Shelton and a senior antitrust lawyer at Google went to the White House to meet with one of Mr. Obama’s technology advisers. … By the end of the month, the FTC had decided not to file an antitrust lawsuit against the company, according to the agency’s internal emails.”

What is wild about the above leaked FTC document is it goes to great lengths to show an anti-competitive pattern of conduct toward the larger players in the ecosystem. Even if you ignore the distasteful political aspects of the FTC non-decision, the other potential out was:

“The distinction between harm to competitors and harm to competition is an important one: according to the modern interpretation of antitrust law, even if a business hurts individual competitors, it isn’t seen as breaking antitrust law unless it has also hurt the competitive process—that is, that it has taken actions that, for instance, raised prices or reduced choices, over all, for consumers.” – Vauhini Vara

Part of the reason the data set was incomplete on that front was for the most part only larger ecosystem players were consulted. Google engineers have went on record stating they aim to break people’s spirits in a game of psychological warfare. If that doesn’t hinder consumer choice, what does?

When the EU published their statement of objections Google’s response showed charts with the growth of Amazon and eBay as proof of a healthy ecosystem.

The market has been consolidated down into a few big winners which are still growing, but that in and of itself does not indicate a healthy nor neutral overall ecosystem.

The long tail of smaller e-commerce sites which have been scrubbed from the search results is nowhere to be seen in such charts / graphs / metrics.

The other obvious “untruth” hidden in the above Google chart is there is no way product searches on are included in Google’s aggregate metrics. They are only counting some subset of them which click through a second vertical ad type while ignoring Google’s broader impact via the combination of PLAs along with text-based AdWords ads and the knowledge graph, or even the recently rolled out rich product answer results.

Who could look at the following search result (during anti-trust competitive review no less) and say “yeah, that looks totally reasonable?”

Google has allegedly spent the last couple years removing “visual clutter” from the search results & yet they manage to product SERPs looking like that – so long as the eye candy leads to clicks monetized directly by Google or other Google hosted pages.

The Search Results Become a Closed App Store

Search was an integral piece of the web which (in the past) put small companies on a level playing field with larger players.

That it no longer is.

“What kind of a system do you have when existing, large players are given a head start and other advantages over insurgents? I don’t know. But I do know it’s not the Internet.” – Dave Pell

The above quote was about app stores, but it certainly parallels a rater system which enforces the broken window fallacy against smaller players while looking the other way on larger players, unless they are in a specific vertical Google itself decides to enter.

“That actually proves my point that they use Raters to rate search results. aka: it *is* operated manually in many (how high?) cases. There is a growing body of consensus that a major portion of Googles current “algo” consists of thousands of raters that score results for ranking purposes. The “algorithm” by machine, on the majority of results seen by a high percentage of people, is almost non-existent.” … “what is being implied by the FTC is that Googles criteria was: GoogleBot +10 all Yelp content (strip mine all Yelp reviews to build their database). GoogleSerps -10 all yelp content (downgrade them in the rankings and claim they aren’t showing serps in serps). That is anticompetitive criteria that was manually set.” – Brett Tabke

Is Brand the Answer?

About 3 years ago I wrote a blog post about how branding plays into SEO & why it might peak. As much as I have been accused of having a cynical view, the biggest problem with my post was it was naively optimistic. I presumed Google’s consolidation of markets would end up leading Google to alter their ranking approach when they were unable to overcome the established consensus bias which was subsidizing their competitors. The problem with my presumption is Google’s reliance on “data” was a chimera. When convenient (and profitable) data is discarded on an as need basis.

Or, put another way, the visual layout of the search result page trumps the underlying ranking algorithms.

Google has still highly disintermediated brand value, but they did it via vertical search, larger AdWords ad units & allowing competitive bidding on trademark terms.

If Not Illegal, then Scraping is Certainly Morally Deplorable…

As Google scraped Yelp & TripAdvisor reviews & gave them an ultimatum, Google was also scraping Amazon sales rank data and using it to power Google Shopping product rankings.

Around this same time Google pushed through a black PR smear job of Bing for doing a similar, lesser offense to Google on rare, made-up longtail searches which were not used by the general public.

While Google was outright stealing third party content and putting it front & center on core keyword searches, they had to use “about 100 “synthetic queries”—queries that you would never expect a user to type” to smear Bing & even numerous of these queries did not show the alleged signal.

Here are some representative views of that incident:

  • “We look forward to competing with genuinely new search algorithms out there—algorithms built on core innovation, and not on recycled search results from a competitor. So to all the users out there looking for the most authentic, relevant search results, we encourage you to come directly to Google. And to those who have asked what we want out of all this, the answer is simple: we’d like for this practice to stop.” – Google’s Amit Singhal
  • “It’s cheating to me because we work incredibly hard and have done so for years but they just get there based on our hard work. I don’t know how else to call it but plain and simple cheating. Another analogy is that it’s like running a marathon and carrying someone else on your back, who jumps off just before the finish line.” Amit Singhal, more explicitly.
  • “One comment that I’ve heard is that “it’s whiny for Google to complain about this.” I agree that’s a risk, but at the same time I think it’s important to go on the record about this.” – Matt Cutts
  • “I’ve got some sympathy for Google’s view that Bing is doing something it shouldn’t.” – Danny Sullivan

What is so crazy about the above quotes is Google engineers knew at the time what Google was doing with Google’s scraping. I mentioned that contrast shortly after the above PR fiasco happened:

when popular vertical websites (that have invested a decade and millions of Dollars into building a community) complain about Google disintermediating them by scraping their reviews, Google responds by telling those webmasters to go pound sand & that if they don’t want Google scraping them then they should just block Googlebot & kill their search rankings

Learning the Rules of the Road

If you get a sense “the rules” are arbitrary, hypocritical & selectively enforced – you may be on to something:

  • “The bizrate/nextag/epinions pages are decently good results. They are usually well-format[t]ed, rarely broken, load quickly and usually on-topic. Raters tend to like them” … which is why … “Google repeatedly changed the instructions for raters until raters assessed Google’s services favorably”
  • and while claimping down on those services (“business models to avoid”) … “Google elected to show its product search OneBox “regardless of the quality” of that result and despite “pretty terribly embarrassing failures” ”
  • and since Google knew their offerings were vastly inferior, “most of us on geo [Google Local] think we won’t win unless we can inject a lot more of local directly into google results” … thus they added “a ‘concurring sites’ signal to bias ourselves toward triggering [display of a Google local service] when a local-oriented aggregator site (i.e. Citysearch) shows up in the web results””

Google’s justification for not being transparent is “spammer” would take advantage of transparency to put inferior results front and center – the exact same thing Google does when it benefits the bottom line!

Around the same time Google hard-codes the self-promotion of their own vertical offerings, they may choose to ban competing business models through “quality” score updates and other similar changes:

The following types of websites are likely to merit low landing page quality scores and may be difficult to advertise affordably. In addition, it’s important for advertisers of these types of websites to adhere to our landing page quality guidelines regarding unique content.

  • eBook sites that show frequent ads
  • ‘Get rich quick’ sites
  • Comparison shopping sites
  • Travel aggregators
  • Affiliates that don’t comply with our affiliate guidelines

The anti-competitive conspiracy theory is no longer conspiracy, nor theory.

Key points highlighted by the European Commission:

  • Google systematically positions and prominently displays its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of its merits. This conduct started in 2008.
  • Google does not apply to its own comparison shopping service the system of penalties, which it applies to other comparison shopping services on the basis of defined parameters, and which can lead to the lowering of the rank in which they appear in Google’s general search results pages.
  • Froogle, Google’s first comparison shopping service, did not benefit from any favourable treatment, and performed poorly.
  • As a result of Google’s systematic favouring of its subsequent comparison shopping services “Google Product Search” and “Google Shopping”, both experienced higher rates of growth, to the detriment of rival comparison shopping services.
  • Google’s conduct has a negative impact on consumers and innovation. It means that users do not necessarily see the most relevant comparison shopping results in response to their queries, and that incentives to innovate from rivals are lowered as they know that however good their product, they will not benefit from the same prominence as Google’s product.

Overcoming Consensus Bias

Consensus bias is set to an absurdly high level to block out competition, slow innovation, and make the search ecosystem easier to police. This acts as a tax on newer and lesser-known players and a subsidy toward larger players.

Eventually that subsidy would be a problem to Google if the algorithm was the only thing that matters, however if the entire result set itself can be displaced then that subsidy doesn’t really matter, as it can be retracted overnight.

Whenever Google has a competing offering ready, they put it up top even if they are embarrassed by it and 100% certain it is a vastly inferior option to other options in the marketplace.

That is how Google reinforces, then manages to overcome consensus bias.

How do you overcome consensus bias?


SEO Book

Host your Podcasts on Google Drive for Free

April 14th, 2015

If you are looking to publish your own audio or video podcasts, you’ll need to rent space on a public web server to host the MP3 or MP4 files of your podcast. When someone subscribes to your podcast feed in iTunes, or another podcasting app, the podcast media files will download from this server to the user’s computer or mobile phone.

Where do you host the podcast files? If you have signed up for a web hosting account, you can use the rented space to host the podcast files else you may consider using Google Drive – it is free, you can host both audio and video podcast files and there are no known bandwidth restrictions.

Google Drive for Podcast Hosting

Free Podcast Hosting on Google Drive

Google Drive offers web hosting and you can make use of this feature to host to host your own podcast show in two minutes.

Essentially, what we will do is create a new folder in Google Drive to store the podcast files and then make this folder public so anyone on the web can download episode files stored in this Google Drive folder. Any audio or video file that you upload to this Google Drive folder will have a public URL that you can use in your Podcast XML feed for publishing on iTunes.

  1. Click here and authorize the Google Script so that it can create a new public folder in your Google Drive for hosting the files.
  2. You’ll now be provide a link to the new Google Drive folder. Open the link and upload one or more podcast files – see sample folder.
  3. Next follow step #2 of the wizard and you should see a list of the uploaded podcast files and their public URLs like in this example. Copy-paste the file URLs in your iTunes RSS feed.

The podcasts will be served from

Other than podcast episodes, you may also upload art work, logos and other image files that may be required for submitting your Podcast into the iTunes store.

Also see: How to Publish your own Podcast

Podcasts Files URLs on Google Drive

If you have created a podcast folder in Google Drive already and only need the URLs of the files for adding to your podcast RSS feed, here’s the trick. Make a note of the folder ID of podcast folder in Google Drive and add to the URL below (replace XYZ with your folder ID). Do make sure that privacy of your Google Drive folder is “anyone with a link can view” for people to be able to access your podcasts.

The story, Host your Podcasts on Google Drive for Free, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 11/04/2015 under Google Drive, Podcasts, Internet.
Digital Inspiration Technology Blog

How to Keep your Site Fast for Mobile-Friendly

April 14th, 2015

Posted by Zoompf

Cindy Krum recently published a must-read primer on the upcoming Mobile-Friendly changes which I highly recommend checking out before proceeding. Got it? Good. With the mad rush to optimize mobile sites prior to April 21st, it can be very easy to sacrifice performance in the process. Lest we forget, Google has mentioned on multiple occasions that website performance is also a factor in search ranking, first in 2010 for desktop sites and again in 2013 for mobile sites.

In this post I’m going to cover a few high-level best practices to keep in mind during your mobile site (re)design efforts. In addition, I suggest you also peruse Google’s excellent documentation on mobile-friendly websites.

Measuring your mobile site performance

The first step to improving your mobile performance is to measure where you’re starting. There are a number of excellent free and paid resources to do so, but two of my favorites are Google Chrome’s built-in Developer Tools and WebPageTest. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be using Chrome Developer Tools in this article.

Not a developer? Don’t worry, using the Chrome tools are real easy:

  1. Open up Chrome (install if necessary)
  2. Hit the little “hamburger” menu (3 stacked lines) in the top-right corner
  3. Select More Tools, then Developer Tools

You’ll see a nifty screen with lots of juicy info. Most importantly, at the top there’s a drop-down with many different mobile and tablet emulators. Pretty cool.

Now, select a device of interest, say Apple iPhone 6. Enter your site address in the address bar, hit enter and voila! You’re now seeing your site rendered as an iPhone 6 would see it. Scroll down to the bottom to see some interesting performance stats like total page load time, size of the page, and the total number of requests. Hit the “Network” tab for a particularly helpful waterfall diagram view, as shown below:


Now let’s get started…

Optimize those images for mobile

According to the HTTP Archive, images on average account for over 60% of your total page content. Pretty intuitive, images rule the web. Go ahead and check your own page with Chrome Developer Tools and you’ll likely see similar numbers. When downloading over relatively slow mobile connections speeds, the impact of large images on your site performance can be even more severe.

While it’s always a best practice to optimize your site using lossless and lossy image optimization techniques, there’s another consideration for mobile: Should you even be downloading that image to begin with? That big, beautiful 1600px wide “hero” image you use on your desktop site might be completely wasted on the smaller display of a phone or tablet, even if that tablet as a high resolution or “retina” screen.

The solution? Consider loading a smaller image just for your mobile users. Be careful, though; there’s a “right” and “wrong” way of doing this.

Quick aside: for this example, and your mobile site in general, make sure you’re specifying the viewport meta tag in the head section of your page. Basically, this tells the mobile browser you have a responsive mobile site, and not to try to auto-scale a large desktop site down to mobile resolution (ugly!). Additionally if this tag is not present, you will get different results in your Chrome tests below.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />

The “wrong” way

Responsive design makes heavy use of CSS media queries to style your site differently at the smaller viewport sizes used by mobile devices, so an obvious approach to swap out your images might go something like this:

<!-- DON'T DO THIS -->
    @media (min-width:376px) {
        .mobile_image {
            display: none;
        .desktop_image {
            display: inline;
    @media (max-width:375px) {
        .mobile_image {
            display: inline;
        .desktop_image {
            display: none;
<img src="mobile.png" class="mobile_image" />
<img src="desktop.png" class="desktop_image" />

This code displays one image when the screen resolution is wide, and a different/smaller image when the resolution is smaller.

This looks just fine on the rendered page, but there’s a big problem: both images get downloaded! To verify, load this sample in Chrome and you’ll see something like this:


Well that’s not good; in fact that’s even worse! You are wasting time and bandwidth downloading an image that won’t even be shown!

The right way

Instead, consider using the background-image style on a DIV to achieve the same effect, for example:

<!-- DO THIS -->
    @media (min-width:376px) {
        .myimage {
            background-image: url("desktop.png");
            width: 700px;
            height: 550px;
    @media (max-width:375px) {
        .myimage {
            background-image: url("mobile.png");
            width: 350px;
            height: 130px;
<div class="myimage"></div>

Loading in Chrome tools, you’ll now see this:


Only the mobile image was loaded… much better! Of course, there is one caveat: to use background-image with a DIV, you need to supply the image width and height in the CSS for that class. This can be cumbersome for a lot of images, or images that change size frequently, but if your “hero” images are relatively static in nature, strategic use of this technique could make a significant improvement to your mobile site performance.

Takeaway: Where possible, use the CSS media queries and the background-image style to conditionally render mobile images. This may only make sense for your largest images.

Consider ditching jQuery

What? Did you read that correctly? jQuery is THE library of choice for writing JavaScript, how can you live without it?

jQuery is indeed quite useful, but recall one if its original design goals was to provide a consistent interface that matches the W3C recommended API across wildly diverse browsers with different (and often broken) standards implementations. jQuery let’s you avoid writing “if Internet Explorer do this, else do that” code.

BUT, jQuery’s unifying interface is much less necessary on mobile. Mobile is dominated by WebKit-derived browsers such as Safari or Chrome, so there are fewer issues to abstract away. And weighing in at a hefty 200 KB, jQuery is still a significant library to download, even with liberal use of caching. Even after you compress and minify jQuery, you are dealing with around 30KB.

But wait, you say; you still want the simplified JavaScript interface jQuery provides? It is pretty nice – so consider Zeptojs instead. While not as fully featured as jQuery, it weighs in at a mere 5 KB in size compressed, roughly 6 times smaller! Since Zepto is largely API compatible with jQuery you shouldn’t have to rewrite any code to use it. For most basic JavaScript sites, Zepto is more than sufficient.

Takeaway: Minimize the third party libraries you include, and consider using Zeptojs as an alternative to jQuery if your JavaScript needs are basic.

Review your caching settings

Smart web developers reduce the size of their resources to minimize page load times. Really smart web developers avoid the need to download those resources in the first place. This is where browser caching comes in. If your images, CSS, or JavaScript rarely change, consider caching them. This way your users only download the resource once, and the next time they hit your site the link is already sitting their on their local machine (or phone or tablet), just waiting to be used.

Mobify has a nice primer on setting caching headers, and there are many great free tools that can test your caching settings including the super cool REDbot, WooRank, and our own Zoompf. If you’re running an Apache or nginx webserver, consider enabling mod_pagespeed to simplify your caching configuration. If you have a WordPress site, the W3 Total Cache plugin is excellent.

Takeaway: Caching is one of the most effective performance optimizations you can make, and matters more then ever for mobile sites. Review your caching policies and apply caching to your large, infrequently changing libraries and images.

Love animated GIFs? Your browser doesn’t!

Animated GIFs have seen quite the resurgence of late, but the format is dated and showing its age. Dating back almost 30 years, animated GIFs are bloated and cumbersome to download, especially when your animated GIF is a short movie clip. Consider using HTML5 video instead of an animated film GIF. All modern browsers support it, and HTML5 videos are typically 10% or less the size of an equivalent animated GIF.

Another option is Imgur. When you upload animated GIFs to Imgur, they will automatically convert the animation into a format they call GIFV. GIFV is essentially just an HTML5 video, but with a significantly optimized size. Imgur manages the hosting of your videos, and optionally serves the file up at GIFV or GIF depending on the capabilities of your users’ browser (although most all modern browsers support HTML5 video).

Takeaway: Try and avoid animated GIFs for movie clips or complex animations. Modern video protocols used by HTML5 video and GIFV offer significant performance boosts and reduced download times for your users.

The future: HTTP/2

The web is slowly evolving towards HTTP/2, and not a moment too soon. HTTP/1.1 is over 15 years old and showing signs of its age, especially when it comes to unreliable/intermittent connectivity in mobile devices. HTTP/2 already enjoys widespread browser and server support. While I wouldn’t recommend rushing into an HTTP/2 adoption for the April 21st Mobile-Friendly change, future support for this protocol should definitely be on your roadmap. You can read more about HTTP/2 and its future impact on SEO and web performance in my earlier post.

Takeaway: Plan to adopt HTTP/2 on your future roadmap, it’s coming!

In closing

Building a responsive, mobile-friendly website is more than tweaking styles and tags to please the Google crawler. There are nuanced, mobile specific considerations that, if ignored, can significantly slow down your mobile site and kill your user experience. Fortunately there are numerous free tools to help you evaluate your mobile site performance, including WebPageTest, Chrome Developer Tools, Google PageSpeed Insights, and Zoompf’s Free Report. And of course, make sure to test with Google’s own mobile-friendly test tool.

Now…go forth and start optimizing!

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Moz Blog

Designing for Privacy

April 13th, 2015

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 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.


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 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

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:

  • Zscaler
  • CipherCloud
  • Okta
  • White Hat Security

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.


SEO Book

Play PacMan Online In Google Maps

April 12th, 2015

play pac man

Celebrate 1st April by playing PacMan online in Google Maps right now. If you visit Google Maps – you can play the amazing game and enjoy the classic game, though it…

Read full original article at Play PacMan Online In Google Maps

©2015 QuickOnlineTips. All Rights Reserved.

Quick Online Tips

Teach yourself Touch Typing with Free Tools

April 11th, 2015

Touch typing, or the art of typing with your 10 fingers, can do wonders to your productivity. Most technologically literate people know a bit of typing but if you can type without looking at the computer keyboard, you can get work done faster and gain an edge. Touch typing is also a useful skill to have for mobile and tablet users because when you perfectly know where the keys are, you can “Swype” faster.

Touch Typing

Master the Art of Touch Typing

I learned the basics of typing on an old typewriter. Two decades later, I am busy hunting a good typing software for my kid and the number of choices that are available on the web now is mind-boggling. I’ve shared my research here and, whether you are a beginner looking to learn typing or typing to improve your typing speed, this list should help you.

If you are just getting started, the BBC’s Dance Mat Typing should be your go-to resource. It is a browser-based game for kids where each lesson touches a different set of keys and there’s a game at the end of each level to test what you have learned. The lessons would require the Adobe Flash player enabled in your browser.

The next recommended resource is, a free website where you’ll find interactive tutorials and drills to help you learn typing step-by-step. Typing Study is a similar resource but unlike other typing lesson that focus on the English keyboard, Typing Study has lessons for keyboards of most popular languages including Hindi and it requires no Flash Player either.

Typing Tutor - Offline

Tipp10 (Mac, Windows) and Typist (Mac only) are desktop software that teach typing offline and you also have the option to upload your own text – like pages of your favorite novel – for practice.

Practice Typing with Online Games

The best way to learn typing is through practice and there are a plethora of online typing games that will help.

The very-addictive Z-type and QWERTY Warriors are shooter games where the ships are assigned a word and you’ve to type as fast as you can to shoot these advancing ships. Type Racer and TyprX let you test your typing speed while playing a basic game of car racing with other users. 10fastfingers lets you practice typing the most common English words while Typing Club allow you to practice individual keys that you you need think need more trainging. Advanced users can try the Typing Karaoke to test their typing skills.

Ergonomic Keyboard for Touch TypingAlso see: Typing Shortcuts for iOS

Touch-typing is not difficult and you can become a pro if you set aside 30 minutes everyday for a week or two. Also, it is OK to make mistakes during training but always avoid looking down at the keyboard while typing.

Finally, invest in a good comfortable keyboard – I use Microsoft’s Sculpt keyboard and recommend it highly for ergonomics.

The story, Teach yourself Touch Typing with Free Tools, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 06/04/2015 under Learn, Internet.
Digital Inspiration Technology Blog

The Advanced SEO’s Guide To Mobilegeddon

April 10th, 2015

If you’re so far ahead that you’ve scoffed at other articles about preparing for Google’s upcoming mobile algorithm update, columnist Bryson Meunier has tips on taking it to the next level.

The post The Advanced SEO’s Guide To Mobilegeddon appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Incredible Art Made Entirely In Google Drawings

April 9th, 2015

Google Drawings is a simple Microsoft Paint like diagramming application that is commonly used for creating flowcharts and diagrams inside documents and presentations on Google Drive. It offers a few elementary tools before you dismiss Drawings as not worthy of any serious work, take a look at Joshua Pomeroy’s art and you’ll be amazed.

Google Drawings

Google Drawings in Google Drive

Google Drawing - Leonard Nimoy

Creating Art in Google Drawings

Joshua is a Michigan-based visual artist and he uses this basic Google Drawings app to create some very impressive and detailed vector portraits. You can browse through his work on Google Plus and all these images are created entirely inside Google Drawings.

If you are curious to know such incredible art was made, Joshua has uploaded a series of video tutorials on YouTube where he explains how he goes about creating these digital paintings from photographs inside Google Drive.

The story, Incredible Art Made Entirely In Google Drawings, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 07/04/2015 under Google Drive, Internet.
Digital Inspiration Technology Blog

Prime Reasons for, why SEO plays in enhanced web traffic

It has been recently found that, the strategies opted by the SEO Birmingham companies have become critically significant to the success of small businesses. If your online business is not making use of SEO Birmingham, this write-up discusses prime reasons why you should opt for the local strategies used by SEO Birmingham companies.

As per the recent findings, more than 39% of the NETIZENS experience problems while searching for the local businesses over the Word Wide Wed. People know about the existence of the local business, but suffer inconvenience while locating web information about such businesses. The major reason behind such inconvenience suffered by the Netizens is that such business fails to understand the relevance of SEO Birmingham. Thereby, if your business provides products and services over the web nationally or internationally, search engine optimization can be of great help over making the brand visible on the search engine results.

Nowadays, more and more people rely on the Internet for finding local businesses

There have been times, when the local business did not worry about the scope of SEO, just word of mouth has been more than enough for spreading their existence to the local consumers. But, today as per the statistics more than 84% of the people make use of the Internet medium for locating the local businesses. No telephone directories, people rely on search engines.

Thus, it becomes essential to change the traditional marketing strategy to modern day strategy of online marketing.

SEO Birmingham costs a little less

If you are considering Adword strategy to capture the online marketing domain, you must be aware of the fact; the popularity of the keyword chosen is directly proportional to the amount of the fee paid. Selection of local keywords means lesser keyword competition, which means you need not pay extra costs.

Helps in reaping the benefits of advanced Google features

SEO companies in Birmingham, such as SEO Results4u at Avon House, 435 Stratford Road, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands, B90 4AA 0121 746 3121 also contribute to the SEO landscape of their local area, be it Solihull, Birmingham or even the wider West Midlands area.

People are actually unaware about the fact, Google plus has changed the traditional way of Internet usage. If the keywords chosen are relevant to the domain to the local market, you very wisely unlock enhanced services offered by Google:

  • A map representing the physical location of a business
  • Appealing pictures with respect to the business
  • Make use of the reviews posted by the user

Truth be told, without using the local platform of SEO, Google plus fails to recognize your business, which clearly means lack of authentic information over the web.

Local SEO encourages better and enhanced credibility

People trust Yahoo, Bing and Google with their eyes closed and believe, these magical search engines have remedies for each and every query. It is a well-accepted notion among the commoners, the brands that appear in the top search lists are most wanted and authentic service providers. So, if you want people to believe in your brand's credibility, Search Engine Optimization adds credibility to your brand power among the commoners. Local SEO adds credibility as well as a definite increase in the web traffic.

Your Peers are using

Business is all about competition. Your peers are using it and yielding the benefits, why aren’t you?