Greg’s SEO Articles

Google, SEO’s and ‘Quality Content’

GeoCities is a site previously ranking 3rd/4th for all variations of “wish promo code” (though now it’s settled in comfortably at #8).

I think 250k monthly queries related to a major brand makes this a pretty competitive query wouldn’t you say? Not only that, it came out of nowhere and is rapidly ranking for more and more search queries. Just check out the organic keyword report from SEMrush:

Seriously, you should check out the site, it has no main navigation, it’s written very poorly for the language it’s in (English), and it doesn’t have a meaningful link profile to speak of:

 

So if they aren’t ranking this site for its link profile, then I guess it’s ranking because of it’s ‘quality content’ right? After all ‘quality content’ without links can rank…

What does this mean for SEOs

Honestly, why are we as an industry still taking comments like this at face value? And aren’t comments like this detrimental without any context?

 

How often is this true? Is it for high volume or low volume searches? How often does Google rank low-quality pages by these processes aka what’s the fail rate? Google spokespeople hype up the ability of their machine process to solve incredibly complicated problems. And they do it! But they don’t do it anywhere near 100% of the time. And without the context and data, it feels irresponsible to run your digital business (whether agency side or in-house) based on statements like these.

Traditional SEO practices still work, Google doesn’t programmatically understand qualitative concepts like content quality nearly as much as they want you to think they do.

SEO isn’t dying anytime soon, and solid technical SEO, links etc still work etc.

 

Read More

How to use SEO to make your startup more attractive for investors

Long before you get into deep negotiations, due diligence or just even get to pitch your startup to an investor, your chances of getting funded may be damaged by your online searchable reputation.

Your startup’s web assets, such as website, social media pages and any type of online content, as well as your personal online assets, are exposed to basically anyone who knows how to search on Google.

When someone new is interested in doing business with you, the first thing they’ll do is search your name and your startup name on Google. When this happens, you want to be sure that they are presented with the most complimentary information of yourself and your business. It means that web pages which contain positive information about you must be ranked at the top of the SERP (search engine results page).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results. — Wikipedia.

In order to do that you need to be able to control or at least influence 2 things:

1. The content on the top search results of the SERP.
2. The rankings of the SERP for your name and your startup’s name.

How a search engine algorithm works?

Search engines such as Google use web crawlers to collect data from all around the world wide web. The collected information is then analyzed for each web page and domain through various parameters. The most important parameters are links to a web page, and content on a web page. That is how when you search for “Chicago Bulls,” you get the official website of the NBA team, and not of a bull farm in Chicago. This is accomplished simply because there are more links and content about the Chicago Bulls basketball team than any other bull in Chicago.

A SERP for the search term “chicago bulls”

While it is a huge and complex topic, which many thousands of engineers and marketers around the world everyday try to figure out, manipulate, and use to their advantage, there are actually a few things that anyone, even without previous background, can do to optimize theirs SERP rankings and content in a way that will support their online reputation.

Social Media Profile Optimization

Social media websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus and more, always rank high on Google for the account name search queries. Search engines love social media pages because they are usually the most relevant page when a user is searching for a specific name of an individual or a brand.

Here’s what you can to optimize your Social Media profiles/pages on SERP:

1 — Write persuasive profile bio:

Search for your name on Google and see how high your Twitter and LinkedIn profile appear. Pay close attention to the content snippets of the search results.

Does the text in the description create the best image of you or your brand?
If not, go to your profile settings, and edit text in the description. It may take a few days for the changes to appear, but it’s better late than never.

2 — Get a legit profile image:

Are your best images featured in the SERP? The images you see in the middle of the results page are taken from your social media accounts. If you are not happy with them, switch your profile pictures.

Make sure that your profile image is authentic, legit, and leaves a good first impression.

For your brand profile images, make sure your logo’s image is customized to the displayed size and isn’t cut in the middle of it.

3 — Remember I said it may take a few days for the new content to be indexed in search engines?

This one can sometimes help Google call its web crawlers to review your profile pages sooner. Submit the URL of your profile page to Google Search Console.

Submit your new social media profile page to get them indexed faster by Google

4 — Links are super important for search engine algorithms.

They show that a specific web page is relevant for a certain search query. Use the profile bio areas of your social networks account’s to link to your website and to your other social media accounts. Do it from your both personal and brand profile, and make sure that you link to your social media profile from your startup website as well, same as from your personal website if you have.

5 — Signup to more social networks.

If you see on the first page of the SERP other pages that you are not happy with their content or preview, go and open more social media accounts and optimize them. It will take some time for them to get indexed and climb to the top page, but it’s worth it.

Here is a list of recommended social networks to have your profile at, as they tend to rank high on SERP: Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, About.me, Quora, Medium, Pinterest, and Facebook (I guess you have that. Though pay attention that the profile bio from your Facebook profile won’t be displayed on SERP.)

6— Pay special attention to these 3 social networks:

Twitter:
There are 2 main reasons why Twitter is so important for SEO. One — it almost always ranks on the first page of Google. Two — many second tier social networks are automatically generating your default profile bio using your Twitter bio description. Make sure that you pay close attention to your Twitter bio.

LinkedIn:
As with Twitter, LinkedIn will almost always rank on the first page and in many cases will be the first search result, especially in situations where you don’t own a personal website. LinkedIn will also have a higher click-through rate than any other social network. It means that if anyone is searching your name, they will more likely to end up on your LinkedIn page than on any other of your social network profile. The reason for this is that on LinkedIn users expect to find more background information about you, but also to have it outlined in a way which is more organized and easy to read.

Google Plus:
Beside the fact that this is the official social network of world’s largest search engine, there’s also a much more pragmatic reason to pay much closer attention to your Google Plus profile. Here is the reason why.
When your Google Plus contacts search for information about you on Google search, they will be presented with this box on the left side of the SERP. Ask a Google Plus contact to send you a screenshot of this box while they google your name and edit the description and the image on your Google Plus profile to deliver an optimized message to your potential investors.

People that you connected with in Google Plus will see this box (on the right) when they’ll google your name

7 — Customize profile URLs.

Include your first name and surname in profile’s URL. For brand profiles, make sure to include the exact brand name.

Guest Blogging and Content Contribution

Another group of website that search engines love is large publications. By becoming a content contributor of online magazines, you will be entitled to have an “Author Bio,” which you will use to not only brand yourself as an authority in your field, but also to link to your website and other social media profiles.

More than that, if you create the most relevant content about your brand and yourself, then you have a good chance to control more real-estate of SERPs for relevant search queries.

So here’s what you can do:

  1. If you are not writing at the moment, start with blogging. You can open a blog on Medium and begin writing articles about your niche product, or your journey as an entrepreneur.
  2. To get ideas on what to write about, you can use Google Keyword Planner which is a free tool that exists in a Google AdWords account. This tool allows you to explore popular keywords and searches of your product niche. Use these insights to optimize your writing to include answers to popular search queries.
  3. Distribute you blogs posts. You can use popular Twitter hashtags to help reach the most relevant audience.
  4. Use Facebook and LinkedIn groups to engage with other entrepreneurs or professionals in your niche and share your articles with them.
  5. When you feel that your writings has reached a good enough level, outreach to popular bloggers and editors and offer to contribute articles. You can use this list to find website that are open for content contributions.
  6. Mention your startup brand name in your articles to increase the chances of that content appearing on your startup’s brand name search queries.
  7. Link to your startup website in an authentic way, which will add value to the readers. If you do that, it will improve the rankings of your startup website.
Read More

Structured data with Schema.org

Schema.org takes care of all the structured data needs on your website. If you use it to markup products, reviews, events and recipes, search engines like Google can pick up this data and present it in an enhanced way. If you want rich results like snippets, interactive mobile results, voice activated actions or a listing in the knowledge graph, you need to mark up your pages with structured data. This ultimate guide is an overview of this wide-ranging topic.

Boost your chances of Google showing rich results of your site in the search results: learn how to add structured data with Yoast’s training on structured data and SEO.

What is structured data?

Structured data is the data you add to your website to make it easier for search engines to understand. You need a so-called vocabulary to make it work and the one used by the big search engines is called Schema.org. Schema.org provides a series of tags and properties to mark up your products, reviews, local business listings, etc in detail. The major search engines, Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo, collectively developed this vocabulary to reach a shared language that allows them to gain a better understanding of websites.

Structured data & Yoast SEO

Our flagship SEO plugin Yoast SEO supports multiple Schema.orgs out of the box. We’re working hard on extending this list and there’s more info in our Knowledge Base.

If implemented correctly, search engines can use the applied structured data to understand the contents of your page better. As a result, your site might be presented better in search results, for example in the form of rich results like rich snippets or rich cards. However, there are no guarantees you’ll get rich results – that’s up to the search engines.

Why do you need structured data?

Marking up your products, reviews, events, and more with structured data in the Schema.org vocabulary makes your site instantly comprehensible by search engines. This means that they can tell exactly what every part of your site is about. Search engines no longer have to guess that a product listing is a product listing, you can now say it is.

Is structured data important for SEO?

To cut a long story short: yes, structured data in the form of Schema.org is important for your SEO. Correctly implementing data might not give you better rankings, but it will indirectly make your site a better search result.

Enhanced search results give searchers an easier way to pick a result from the list of links. If your listing is rich, and your page does what your listing promises, you are a valid result for the customer and that will lead to a lower bounce rate. A lower bounce rate tells Google that your site is a well-regarded result that promises and delivers.

Also, since structured data is still picking up steam, you have a good chance of getting a head start on your competitors. Just think about it, if you have a barber shop and you markup your 300 five-star reviews, you are way ahead of your competitor who doesn’t mark up his reviews. Google picks up this data and shows it directly in the search results. If you were looking for a barber shop on Google, who would you pick? The one with no reviews or the one with 300 good ones?

Structured data leads to rich results

By making your site understandable for search engines, you’re allowing them to do interesting things with your content. Schema.org and its support is in constant development, so it is improving and expanding all the time. As structured data forms the basis for a lot of new developments in the SEO world — like voice search –, there are bound to be more in the near future. Below is a sampling of the rich search results that are currently available; you can find examples of all in Google’s Search Gallery. At the moment, there are several rich results:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Corporate contacts
  • Carousels
  • Logos
  • Sitelinks Searchbox
  • Social profiles
  • Articles
  • Books
  • Courses
  • Datasets
  • Events
  • Fact checks
  • Job postings
  • Local businesses
  • Music
  • Occupations
  • Podcasts
  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Reviews
  • TV & movies
  • Video

Sitelinks Searchbox

A Searchbox is where the internal search engine of a site is presented within the search results of Google. Google uses Schema.org code for this as well. Yoast SEO has support for this built in, and there’s more info in our Knowledge Base.

The rich results formerly known as rich snippets

Rich results — we’re not supposed to call them rich snippets anymore, according to Google — are the extra pieces of information and interactive features shown on a search result page. In addition to the regular black lines of meta description text, a search result can be enhanced with product information like prices or reviews, or extra navigational tools like breadcrumbs or site search.

Keep reading: ‘Rich snippets everywhere’ »

Rich results on mobile: the carousel

Rich results on mobile are all the rage right now. Search results for certain types of items, like local restaurants, recipes, movies and courses, can get special treatment in the mobile results. These are presented in a touch-friendly, swipeable way also known as the carousel.

Google is incredibly interested in getting you to do as much as you can within these results. So, you can book your flight tickets, reserve a spot in a popular restaurant, order movie tickets and send a tasty looking recipe for cheesecake straight to your Google Home so it can assist you while baking it. Almost everything powered by structured data. And this is only the beginning.

Read on: ‘How to get mobile Rich Cards in Google’ »

Knowledge Graph

 

The Knowledge Graph is the big block of information on the right-hand side in Google. This block details different bits of information about a particular search result. Google fills this graph by checking and evaluating related content about this specific subject. If you have a validated company or if you are an authority on a certain subject, you might see your name, logo and social media profiles appear.

OK, so this might be a sneaky addition because featured snippets are rich results, but they do not get their content from structured data. A featured snippet answers a search question directly in the search results, but uses regular content from a web page to do so.

Does structured data work on mobile?

Yes, the results of implementing structured data work everywhere. Mobile implementation of Schema.org data is in its infancy, although Google has been pushing mobile rich search results for a while now.

If a page meets the criteria set by Google, you can now book movie tickets or reserve a table at a restaurant directly from the search results. If you implement structured data correctly, you could also be eligible for several interactive extras in the mobile search results pages. In addition, if you add AMP to the equation you can get even more Google approved interactive goodies on mobile.

 

Different kinds of structured data

If you look at the Schema.org website, you’ll notice that there is a lot of information you could add to your site as structured data. Not everything is relevant, though. Before you start implementing structured data, you need to know what you should markup. Do you have a product in an online store? Do you own a restaurant? Or do you have a local business providing services to the community? Or a site with your favorite cheesecake recipes? Whichever it is, you need to know what you want to do and explore the possibilities. Don’t forget to check the documentation by search engines to understand what they need from you.

Don’t go for the most obscure ones; pick the ones that are relatively easy to implement. Some Schema.orgs appear on less than a thousand sites, but others appear on millions. You can put the major Schema.orgs into groups like Creative Works and Commerce, and you will find the most common items to markup with Schema.org in these groups. These are the most important ones:

Creative works

The first major group is Creative Work and it encompasses the widest group of creative works – things that have been produced by someone or something. You’ll find the most common ones below, but the list is much longer. You’ll also find properties for sculptures, games, conversations, software applications, visual artworks and much more. However, most of these properties don’t have a rich presentation attached to them in search engine results, so they are less valuable. But, as mentioned earlier, if your site has items in the categories below, be sure to mark them up with Schema.org.

Articles

An article could be a news item or part of an investigative report. You can distinguish between a news article, a tech article or even a blog post.

Books

A book is a book, be it in a paper form or in digital form as an eBook. You can markup every type of property, from the author who wrote it to any awards it has won.

Courses

Soon, anyone offering courses can use the new Schema.org. At the moment, Google is holding small-scale tests with selected participants to see how this Schema.org performs.

Datasets

Google understands structured data for datasets and can use this to help surface and understand these datasets better. Find out more on Google’s developer pages.

How-tos

In the near future, you’ll be able to markup your how-to articles with HowTo structured data. By following a step-by-step process, users can get a specific task done. At the moment, there’s no rich result attached to this.

Music

Music also gets the structured data treatment. There are a couple of Schema.orgs of interest for music, like MusicRecording, MusicAlbum, MusicEvent and MusicGroup.

Recipes

By adding Recipe data to the recipes on your cooking website, you can get your recipes featured directly in search results. What’s more, with the advent of mobile rich results, recipes might even be presented in a stunning new way on mobile featuring great images — if you add them. And that’s not all, because you can now send your recipes to Google Home and get Assistant to speak it out loud for you. How cool is that?

TV & Movies

Movies and TV shows get their own piece of structured data as well. Searching for a movie in search engines will yield a rich result with reviews, poster art, cast information and even the ability to directly order tickets for a showing. You can even mark up lists of the best movies ever made or your favorite TV shows. What’s more, get your visitors to watch the content directly by adding ViewAction or Watch Action structured data.

Videos

It’s possible to do all kinds of interesting things with video. Google, in particular, is working on new ways to display videos in the search results, with AMP for instance. Google can use your videos in AMP carousels and Top Stories listings.

Podcast

Have a podcast? Why not mark up your podcast with structured data so Google can do cool stuff with it, like showing each episodes description and even adding a play button as well.

Commerce

The second major group is Commerce. In this group, you’ll find several important types to mark up with Schema.org.

Events

Marking up your event listings with the correct Event Schema.org, might lead to search engines showing your events directly in the search results. This is a must have if you own a nightclub, a venue or any type of business that regularly puts on events.

Businesses and organizations

If you make money with your website, chances are you own a business. If you’re a site owner or just work on a company site, you’ll find the business and organization Schema.orgs interesting. Almost every site can benefit from the correct business Schema.org. If you do it well, you could get a nice Knowledge Graph or another type of rich listing in the search engines. You can even add special structured data for your contact details so customers can contact you directly from the search results.

Read more: ‘Local business listings with Schema.org and JSON-LD’ »

Products

The Schema.org for products is almost as important as the one for businesses and organizations. Using Product Schema.org you can give your products the extra data search engines need to give you rich snippets, for example. Think about all the search results you see with added information, like pricing, reviews, availability, etc. If you have products, this should be a major part of your structured data strategy. Don’t forget to mark up your product images.

Keep reading: ‘Rich snippets for product listings with Schema.org’ »

Reviews

Reviews and ratings play an important role in today’s search process. Businesses, service providers and online stores all use reviews to attract more customers and show how trustworthy their offer is. Getting those five stars in search engines might be the missing link to creating a truly successful business.

Read on: ‘Grow your business with ratings and reviews’ »

New kid on the block: Actions

Voice assistants are all the rage and we will see a lot happen in this space in the coming months. Take recipes for instance; you can send a recipe from the search results — powered by structured data and AMP — to your Google Home to be read aloud while you are cooking. These are called Actions and there are a whole bunch of them. If you want your recipes to appear in the Google Assistant library you need to add a specific set of structured data and adhere to additional rules. You can find more on that on the Creating a recipe action page. Visit Google’s Assistant site to get a feel for what’s possible (a lot!).

Technical details

To get started with marking up your pages, you need to understand how Schema.org actually works. If you look closely at the full specs on Schema.org, you’ll see there’s a strict hierarchy in the vocabulary. Everything is connected, just like everything is connected on your pages. Scroll through the list to see all the options at a glance and note down the ones you think you need.

Google Search Console

If you need to check how your structured data is performing in Google, check your Search Console. Find the Structured Data tab under Search Appearance and you’ll see all the pages that have structured data, plus an overview of pages that give errors, if any. You can also find more insights into Rich Cards. Read this post for more info.

Let’s look at the hierarchy. A Schema.org implementation starts with a Thing, this is the most generic type of item. A Thing could be a more specific type of item, for instance, a Creative Work, an Event, Organisation, Person, Place or Product.

For example, a movie is a “Thing” and a “Creative Work”, which falls under the category “Movie”. You can add a lot of properties to this, like a “Description”, a “Director”, an “Actor”, a poster “Image”, “Duration” or “Genre”. There are loads of properties to add, so you can get as specific as you want. However, don’t go overboard, since not every property is used by search engines – at least not yet anyway. What you should do, is look at the specifications in Google’s documentation, for instance, to see which properties are required and which are recommended.

A sample Schema.org hierarchy

If we put what we know now in a hierarchy, this is what you will end up with:

  • Thing
    • Creative Work
      • Movie
        • Description (type: text)
        • Director (type: person)
        • Actor (type: person)
        • Image (type: ImageObject or URL)
        • etc.

If it would be a local business, you could use something like this:

  • Thing
    • Organisation (or Place)
      • LocalBusiness
        • Dentist
          • Name
          • Address
          • Email
          • Logo
          • Review
          • etc.

For local businesses, you could pick a more specific type of business. This makes it easier for search engines to determine what kind of business you own. There are hundreds of types of local business, but your business might not fit one of the descriptions. Using the Product Types Ontology you can get more specific information if your listing is too broad.

Sticking to the local business example, you’ll see that Google lists several required properties, like the NAP (Name and Phone) details of your business. There are also loads of recommended properties, like a URL, geo-coordinates, opening hours, etc. Try to fill out as much of these as you can, because only then will search engines give you the full presentation you’re looking for. If you need help with your local business markup, you’ll find our Local SEO plugin very helpful.

What do you need to mark up?

Looking at Schema.org for the first time might feel a bit daunting. The list is enormous and the possibilities are endless, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To get over this, you need to go back to basics. Think about what your site, business or product is about and write down the specifications and properties you feel are important, then work your way up from there.

Having said that, there are a couple of sections you should prioritize in your plan to add structured data to your site. If you start off with these three, you’ll have the basics covered and then you can build on that. You should absolutely start with structured data for your business details, products, and reviews. These will have the biggest effect in the short term.

 

How to implement structured data

Don’t be frightened, but here comes the technical part of the story. Actually there’s nothing scary about adding the data to your pages any more thanks to JSON-LD. This JavaScript-based data format makes it much easier to add structured data since it forms a block of code and is no longer embedded in the HTML of your page. This makes it easier to write and maintain, plus it’s better understood by both humans and machines. If you need help implementing JSON-LD structured data you can enroll in our structured data course or follow a high-level course on Google’s Codelabs.

Structured data with JSON-LD

JSON-LD is the preferred method of adding structured data to your site. However, not all search engines have been quick to adopt it – Bing being the last hold-out. Thankfully, Microsoft came round and now supports this, which is the most efficient method.

Below is a sample product listing of our flagship SEO plugin: Yoast SEO. This is only a small product listing with the basic information: type, name, image, description, and brand. At the end of the code is a call to action to buy the plugin, which costs a certain amount of dollars.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org/",
  "@type": "Product",
  "name": "Yoast SEO for WordPress",
  "image": "https://cdn-images.yoast.com/uploads/2010/10/Yoast_SEO_WP_plugin_FB.png",
  "description": "Yoast SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin. It handles the technical optimization of your site & assists with optimizing your content.",
  "brand": {
    "@type": "Thing",
    "name": "Yoast"
  },
  "offers": {
    "@type": "Offer",
    "priceCurrency": "USD",
    "price": "89.00"
  }
}
</script>

If you want to learn more about working with all this on your site, you should read Michiel’s article on how to use JSON-LD to add Schema.org data to your website, Annelieke’s article on adding structured data to your site with Google Tag Manager or learn how to add structured data with our training on structured data and SEO.

The old ways: RFDa and Microdata

The classic way of writing structured data for inclusion on your pages involves directly embedding it into your HTML. This made a really inefficient and error-prone process and is much of the reason why the uptake of Schema.org hasn’t been particularly fast. Writing and maintaining it via RFDa or Microdata is a pain. Believe us, try to do as much as you can in JSON-LD.

Microdata needs itemprops to function, so everything has to be inline coded. You can instantly see how that makes it hard to read, write and edit.

Structured data and Google AMP

The open source AMP project (Accelerated Mobile Pages) has been causing quite a stir. The project’s goal is to get pages to load lightning fast on mobile using a special kind of HTML. Google is pushing AMP pretty hard and also mentions its reliance on structured data. If you want to use AMP you need to add structured data. Google uses several Schema.org items to take care of the more interactive parts of AMP elements. You can use Yoast SEO combined with our AMP Glue plugin to take care of most AMP needs.

Tools for working with structured data

Schema.org is not too hard to work with, but if adding code by hand seems scary, you could try some of the tools listed below. If you are still not sure how to go about this, ask your web developer for help. They will probably fix this for you in a couple of minutes.

External links

Most search engines have their own developer center where you can find more information on the inner workings of their structured data implementations. Read these to see what works and what doesn’t. You should stick to their rules, because a bad Schema.org implementation could lead to a penalty. Always check your code in the structured data test tool to see if it’s correct. Fix errors and regularly maintain the code on your site to see if it is still up to scratch.

In the end

You can’t run away from structured data anymore. If your site means anything to you, you should look into it and figure out the best way to make use of Schema.org. Implemented correctly, it can do great things for your site, now and in the future. Search engines are constantly developing new ways to present search results and more often than not they use Schema.org data to do it.

The post Structured data with Schema.org: the ultimate guide appeared first on Yoast.

 

Read More

So-Called Google Duplex: The what, the ethics, the SEO

What is Google Duplex exactly?

Google Duplex is an experimental new technology that Google demoed at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference. This technology allows Google to mimic human conversation. Google is quick to say that at this point, it’s only trained for specific fields.

Google showed a video in which a robot makes an appointment for a hairdressers appointment by calling that hairdresser and having an actual conversation. If you haven’t seen a demo of it yet, check out this video.

Is it any good?

Last Wednesday at the Google I/O conference, John Hennessy said about Google Duplex: “In the domain of making appointments, it passes the Turing test.” The Turing test is a test that determines whether a human is indistinguishable from a robot. This means that the robot used in Google Duplex is not distinguishable from an actual human being.

John Hennessy is the chairman of the board of Google’s parent company Alphabet. He is also quite a hero in the field of computer science. When he says something like that — even about his own company — it’s worth thinking about.

John Hennessy was pretty quick to point out that it passes in only one specific field: the task of booking appointments. “It doesn’t pass it in general terms, but it passes in that specific domain. And that’s really an indication of what’s coming.” Which gets us to ethics.

The ethics of AI that’s this good

When you have an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can interact with people, as Google Duplex can, you need to think about ethics. Luckily, people have been thinking about precisely these kinds of ethics problems for a long time. The first set of rules you’ll run into when you search around ethics concerning AI are Isaac Asimov’s famous three laws of robotics, introduced in his 1942 (!) short story Runaround:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

While this laid the groundwork for almost all of the science fiction around robots, most of that doesn’t necessarily immediately come into play now. But since then, people have started adding on the three laws of robotics. The most well-known “fourth law of robotics” was added by novelist Lyuben Dilov, in his book Icarus’s Way. This law is as follows:

A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases.

Now, go back to the video linked above. Nowhere does that assistant state it’s a bot. In fact, it has mannerisms that make it very human. I think that’s wrong and I think people were rightly calling Google out on that. Google has already stated that they will change that. I’m curious how exactly. Let’s say I am skeptical. Google does not always communicate their intentions clearly. I mean: Google says it discloses which results are ads in its search results and which results aren’t. However, most ‘non-tech’ people don’t know what exactly is an ad and what is an organic result.  We’ll have to wait and see, or maybe, hear.

Security implications

In the wrong hands, this type of technology is incredibly scary. Did you know that it now takes less than 1 minute of recorded audio to reasonably accurately simulate somebody’s voice? Combine that with the inferior systems of security we currently have for phone conversations with, for instance, banks, and you have a potential disaster on your hands.

What will Google Duplex be used for?

The examples we’ve seen so far indicate that Google Duplex can be used to make straightforward phone calls – to plan meetings and make reservations. These examples fit the personal assistant purpose for which Google Assistant is promoted. But if an AI becomes this good at consumer interaction, of course, businesses will want to use it to receive phone calls as well. They could use it for helpdesks and other types of calls that we now task entire call centers with.

Future use of Google Duplex?

It is hard to say when Google Duplex will be used on a large scale. This might not happen next year or even the year after. But it’s definitely going faster than most people outside of the tech bubble realize. If Google Duplex can be trained to make a restaurant booking, it can also be trained to take your new credit card application. And, since it is an AI, it would be much faster and less error-prone than a human would be at performing your credit check.

Look at a Google Duplex-like system for receiving calls as a nice extension to the phone call conversion tracking system Google already has. Google could indeed take your credit card application. Or, without even all that much training, do the other side of the second example call in the video above and take the entire reservation system for a restaurant and automate it. The question then becomes: what if your digital assistant calls into the Duplex powered system on the other side? Will they use human-like conversation to get the job done? Will we end up with human speech as the ultimate computer to computer language?

 

 

How does this impact search and SEO?

Google Duplex might not seem to have a direct impact on search, but consider this: if your Google Assistant can have conversations like this with your hairdresser and your restaurant of choice, will you have these conversations with him/her too? Suddenly you can talk to your phone and sound like you’re talking to your secretary, instead of sounding like the freak who talks to his phone or watch. Search becomes even more conversational and queries get more complicated.

When queries get more complicated, context becomes more important than ever. And now we’re back to what we’ve been writing about for quite a while here at Yoast: you need to write awesome content. I really can’t add much to what Marieke wrote in that post, so read it.

The other side of how this impacts SEO is more technical. For AIs to be efficient, it’s far easier to rely on structured data. If you use a standards-based system like Schema.org for things like reservations, all Google has to do is tie into that. Suddenly, it doesn’t have to retrain its system for a new booking engine; it can just detect that you use Schema.org for that, and poof, it just works.

Read More

6 Plugins for Improving WordPress Performance

You don’t need to know how to code or do anything technical to make your site run faster and keeping it safe.

1. SWIFT PERFORMANCE LITE

This is free and will significantly speed up your site by:

. Combining CSS/Javascript
. Minifying CSS/Javascript/HTML
. Eliminating render-blocking Javascript and CSS above-the-fold in content
. Leveraging compression and browser caching
. Optimizing images
. Removing query strings from static resources
. Organizing plugins

2. TINYPNG

This plugin will compress and optimize your JPEG and PNG images automatically by:

. Automatic optimization of images when uploaded
. Advanced image optimization in the background
. Optimize images already in your media library
. Set max parameters for images to resize large images
. Option for preserve copyright metadata of images
. Compatible with WPML, Multisite, and WooCommerce

3. WP OPTIMIZE

This plugin helps your site perform at its best because it:
. Cleans your database – It will search for remove and unnecessary data such as trackbacks, pingbacks, trashed and spam comments, and expired options. It gives you complete control over which options it will carry out and can do these at the intervals you select (weekly, etc.).
. Compresses images – The plugin comes with an image compression tool that will compress JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, and TIF files up to 5MG in size. It will also do bulk compression, and auto-compress as images are uploaded.
. Has a built-in cache – WP Optimize also has a caching engine that will temporarily store data for faster loading website loading.

4. YOAST SEO

This plugin makes it very simple to optimize your site for SEO purposes. With it, you have:
. Keyword optimization
. Title and meta description templating
. Content and SEO analysis
. Content snippet previews
. Create cornerstone content
. Bulk editing of content

5. ALL IN ONE WP SECURITY FIREWALL

This is a plugin we always use because of how many features it has, a mere handful being:
. Protection against “Brute Force Login Attacks” with a site lockdown feature
. Google reCaptcha to the login system
. User registration security features
. Database security
. File system security features
. Blacklist functionality
. Firewall features
. Comment spam monitoring
. Security scanner

Both of these plugins give you the opportunity to automatically or manually backup the entirety of your WordPress site at no cost!

Read More

WordPress Hack Prevention

1. GET UP-TO-DATE

Updating everything on WordPress sounds daunting but can be done automatically! Insert this into your wp-config.php:

” define( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, true ); “

Don’t forget to put this in your functions.php:

” add_filter( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_true’ ); ”
” add_filter( ‘auto_update_theme’, ‘__return_true’ ); “

2. CHOOSE YOUR THEMES AND PLUGINS CAREFULLY

Simply choose plugins that have at least 40,000 installs and has a rating of at least 4/5. Make sure, however, to see if its latest update is only a few months old; otherwise it’s much easier to hack into.

3. MODERATE USERS

Make sure none of your users have access to the site that you don’t want. Also delete any old users wherever you can.

4. DISABLE WORDPRESS FILE EDITING

File editing through WordPress is a quick and easy way to make edits, but is also rendering your site susceptible to attacks. It’s best to disable this unless you don’t have FTP access by inputting the following into wp-config.php:

” define(‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true); “

5. PROTECT YOUR LOGIN PAGE

You should rename your wp-login.php page so that brute force attacks are practically ineffective. “All in One WP Security” does this for you for free!

6. ADD TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

This just means you either get a text or email notification sent to you so that nobody can get in unless you let them. You simply have to fill out a verification code sent to you.

7. CHANGE YOUR ADMIN USERNAME

Brute force attacks commonly use the username “Admin” to get into your site. Simply rename it so they have no extra way to get in.

8. USE SSL TO ENCRYPT YOUR DATA

SSL’s really simple to setup as long as you have a CloudFlare account and you have your DNS pointed there. Many hosting services are also starting to provide a free SSL to boot.

9. LIMIT LOGIN ATTEMPTS

“All in One WP Security” does this for you too! If a hacker has too many wrong answers when trying to login, they’ll be locked out for a certain period of time.

10. ALTER YOUR WORDPRESS DATABASE TABLE PREFIX

WordPress databases almost always start with “wp-“. Much like “wp-login” and “admin”, this makes your site easier to hack. Just rename it to something else through your hosting control panel.

11. ALWAYS BACKUP YOUR WEBSITE

Do this for free using the plugin “BackWPUp”!

Read More