Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Gmail Changes = Time to Revisit Your Online Settings

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Gmail changes Google plus security privacy settings Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasThink you’re anonymous online and your Gmail account is confidential? Think again. Last Thursday Google announced changes to Gmail that will allow someone to email you at your Gmail address even if they don’t know that address, as long as both of you are Google Plus and Gmail users. Even better: this capability will be enabled automatically, and requires manual opt-out (and here’s how to do that).

On its official blog, Gmail frames the change as allowing you to “reach the people you know more easily.” Of course, if you don’t actually know the person, this does away with one more layer of protection from your email and effectively integrates Google Plus and Gmail into one messaging service. The flip side is that this could make it even easier to network with other industry figures or potential clients whose email address you’ve forgotten to note, but it seems like a lot of changes and automations actually leave more room for breach of privacy than ever before.

Aside from getting emails from people you don’t know – and maybe don’t want emailing you – there may be more worries with Google Plus’s automation, as in the December case of a man arrested for violating a restraining order taken out by his ex-girlfriend because he sent her an email to join Google Plus. The catch? He says he didn’t send it – Google did, and he didn’t know about it. It’s not clear whether that’s what actually happened, but Google’s automatic invitations have caused ire for some years.

Though the aforementioned incident occurred before Gmail’s announcement last week, the takeaway for PR pros is to never assume that automation by default works in favor of your privacy. And PR pros, who tend to have prolific breadth in their social media and online accounts, must be extra cautious with their social presence.

So take this as a New Year’s reminder to take a few minutes and review the settings and privacy on all your social media accounts. And always make sure you or someone on your team closely monitors changes made to social media, search, and email platforms – you don’t want to have to jump into crisis mode over a preventable online slip-up.

Just Add Mindfulness: The Right Way to Multitask

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Just Add Mindfulness: The Right Way to Multitaks Productivity Sebouh Gemdjian BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasThe problem: The phone keeps ringing, projects pile up, we try to multitask, but all we keep thinking about is the project we’re not doing, so we sacrifice quality and blame it all on limited time and resources.

The cause: “We’re saddled with a Stone Age mind in a digital world,” Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn told Google employees as he introduced them to meditation in 2007. A pioneer of blending Western medicine with mindfulness meditation, Kabat-Zinn is a molecular biologist, a trained Zen teacher, and founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In that talk at the “Googleplex” in Mountain View, Calif., Kabat-Zinn defined the Stone Age mind as the tendency to fall into obsession with doing (as in the next thing to survive) and ignore the doer (as in the one active right now).

In her book The One Who is Not Busy—Connecting with Work in a Deeply Satisfying Way, Zen teacher Darlene Cohen writes that we fail at multitasking when we stay in the perception of the whole (our schedule), and don’t settle on anything because we keep shifting focus. When we’ve taken the time to settle on the doer, who only exists when we’re actually doing something, our schedule is a balanced interconnectedness of tasks, and when we haven’t done that our schedule appears chaotic.

The solution: According to Cohen we can find relief by “matching focused awareness to whatever motions our hands and bodies are actually doing at the moment.” It is much more satisfying than paying attention to something we’re not doing. I’ve found it useful to include sensations in the body as part of the activities to be aware of. Once our feet are firmly planted in our current activity, we can look at the rest of our schedule for perspective and then go back to the task at hand. She calls this type of focus “simultaneous inclusion.” Dr. Zinn presents his version of this point in this short, guided meditation taken from his 2007 Google talk.

Here is an exercise from Cohen’s book that is strikingly useful in the workplace, called “Talking Meditation”:

“In any conversation, short or long, tune in to your own breath at least three times while (1) listening to another person speak, and (2) while you yourself are talking… This is true simultaneous inclusion. You are thinking and feeling your breath at the same time… Your breath gives you the distance you need from the conversation in order to participate in it from real interest rather than from habitual conditioning.”

Maintenance: Zoketsu Norman Fischer, former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center and frequent speaker at the Brooklyn Zen Center, teaches a course called “Mindfulness in Legal Education.” The group has a mission statement outlining examples of specific perspectives connected to meditation that foster productivity and inspiration.

One perspective includes wisdom and creativity. Meditating on awareness of the breath and letting thoughts come and go without grasping brings more self-honesty, less distortion, and a unity of mind and heart. As anyone looking for inspiration for a new project will attest, passion and logic in the right ratio rev up the creative engine, and meditation can be a means of ignition accessible anywhere.

Compassion is beneficial to productivity, as it inspires empathy, connectedness and teamwork. It is a meditative perspective that happens when we fail at balancing focus on our current tasks with mindfulness of their context. Once we realize that what we’re doing at that moment is failing, the way everyone does sometimes, we can go back to a clear, inspired perspective of our priorities. Insight meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg calls it “exercising the letting-go muscle” in her talks. When we remember it’s all about starting again fresh, motivation and inspiration usually follow.

Further reading:

Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement and Peace by Sharon Salzberg

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind By Shunryu Suzuki

To Meet the Real Dragon by Gudo Nishijima

Sailing Home by Norman Fischer

Arriving at Your Own Door by Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Sound of Silence by Ajahn Sumedho

How Google Hummingbird Affects Your SEO

Monday, October 14th, 2013

How Google Hummingbird's Semantic Search Affects Your SEO and Search Engine RankingOn Google’s 15th birthday, how should SEOs optimize for its new “semantic search” so they are not left out of the birthday party?

With 90 percent of searches worldwide affected and their search engine audience changed, marketing and public relations professionals are asking what the latest Google search engine semantic algorithm will mean for their online and mobile findability and  how to make their content and SEO strategies more Hummingbird-algorithm friendly.

At Hummingbird’s launch on September 26, Google explained drivers behind the “precise and fast” Hummingbird, saying search users increasingly expect the search engines to fulfill longer, more complex and conversational search queries.  Hummingbird, with its semantic approach, is an upgrade to the way search algorithms interpret these new types of queries, as it better understands the full question and the reasons for asking it, instead of just performing the old-school keyword-by-keyword matchmaking.

Amit Singhal, SVP at Google Search, said Hummingbird is an advancement in search technology’s capacity to understand language and that Hummingbird “makes search results even more useful, especially when you ask Google long and complex questions.”

Therefore, marketers and SEOs need to determine if their pages and content are optimized not only for the evolved nature of the search queries, but also for the new semantic Googling.  With Hummingbird’s release at the end of August, you should be able to compare your search rankings pre- and post-Hummingbird to determine any changes in traffic.

With this latest search engine evolution, Google is also looking ahead to the very near future of conversational mobile search overtaking desktop searches.  And Hummingbird makes Google more mobile-friendly. Considering Morgan Stanley’s analysis in The Mobile Internet Report that mobile web use will surpass desktop internet usage by 2015, Hummingbird’s launch seems extremely timely. With desktop searches also becoming more Siri-like, Google Chrome now includes the voice search option for its desktop queries.

Google searches make up 12.8 billion searches, or 66.7 percent of the 19.2 billion searches conducted monthly.  Distant competitors are Microsoft Bing with 3.4 billion or 17.9 percent, and Yahoo with 2.2 billion or 11.4 percent, according to June’s comScore qSearch analysis.  With Hummingbird, Google might keep on out-Googling its challengers and continue being the leading filter audience between SEOs, as well as the eyes and ears of their targeted consumers.

In fact, Hummingbird’s timeliness is all the more noteworthy considering the increasing Google-Bing competition.  In a recent blow to Google, Apple replaced Google with Bing as Siri’s search engine in the new iOS 7 rolled out on September 18. Although Siri will be Bing-ing rather than Googling, for the time being Google will still remain the default search engine in Safari.

For SEOs now re-optimizing content for Hummingbird’s web crawling, indexing and semantic search, Google says that its search quality rating guidelines regarding content creation have not changed since 2012. In these guides, Google says that creating new and useful content that no other site offers through blog posts, social media services, forums and other means, will “likely influence your website more than any other factors discussed.”

The mobile overtake of desktop demands content creation that is also mobile friendly; in the guidelines Google says that “While many mobile sites were designed with mobile viewing in mind, they weren’t designed to be search friendly.” And Google offers tips to help ensure that your mobile site is properly crawled and indexed.

For additional SEO tips, check out the BurrellesLuce newsletter, 5 Tips for Enhancing Your Link Building and SEO Strategy, and our SEO Tip Sheet.

Are you seeing a drop or an increase in your rankings due to Hummingbird? How are you re-optimizing for the evolved nature of search queries and the new semantic search engine approach? How much are you relying on Google guidelines to drive your SEO strategies? What questions do you have about the latest evolution in search engines?

Searching for What’s Next in Digital

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
Flickr: Crystl

Flickr: Crystl

What will be the next big “game changer” for communicators?  And, how do we use it and interact with it correctly? These a few other questions were on the minds of the attendees to the first xPotomac conference on February 25.

Several presenters discussed Google and the newly announced Google Glass, and how the innovation will allow users to get their heads up. Keynote Vanessa Fox, CEO Nine by Blue, started the discussion with our habit of using Google, and how hard habits are to break. Geoff Livingston, author, marketer and xPotomac founder, along with Patrick Ashamalla, founder, A Brand New Way, said we are getting better at our Google habit. They noted one trick for Google Plus is to put your head-up to engage it. But, it will need to get smarter and begin to understand context to be truly useful. The more things are digitized, the less we are thinking. Display ads will be problematic, and the current model will need to change, especially as voice search expands.

There’s a flaw in our logic in asking Google the best way to drive traffic, because they say, “use Google.” What if Google is not the answer? Ken Yarmosh, CEO, Savvy Apps, says this came out of asking about using Bloggr vs  other sites, and agrees attention + influence is what’s next . He believes the looking at other traffic over the speed of indexing is more important.

Dino Dogan, founder, Triberr, believes the next big problem is the getting distribution power away from the big media outlets like the Huffington Post. There is a movement to take back the conversation. What’s next?  Dogan says it is attention + influence. He says the ground swell of peer to peer influence is taking hold.  He says the noise is not coming from us; it’s coming from the big media companies.

Moving into the visual revolution, Jenifer Consalvo, co-founder and COO, TechCocktail, discussed the use of the new Twitter video service, Vine, and how many companies are actually showing some restraint and waiting for a strategy before using it.  She encouraged us to look at the many how-to videos available and think of new ways to use the service. But, she reminded us to have a consistent message across all platforms. Visuals, in general, gain more engagement. Imagery is one of the biggest drivers of numbers for many platforms.

What do you think is the next big think in digital? Are you using any new technologies you can share with the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers?

Social Media: Stop, Look and Listen

Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Flickr: Paul G - the|G|tm

Flickr: Paul G - the|G|tm

Every day, my Google Reader is chock full of “how to” and “must do” articles especially when it comes to social media.  We read about how important it is to “engage with our audiences.” We hear that we must be “in the conversation.” We’re told that our brand will die if we don’t have a Facebook page – just kidding, but you get the idea.

I’d like to take a step back—back to the basics. I believe many of us got onto social media sites because we thought that was the thing to do. While that may be somewhat true, some may need to re-think why they are there; and, surprisingly (to those of us in the biz), there are a whole lot of businesses and organizations that are just now getting into social media. So, let’s talk about what you should do before making that leap (or if you want to re-evaluate why you’re there).

One thing it seems a lot of folks miss is that before you start posting, purporting, and professing in social media, you should stop, look, and listen. Just like we were taught as kids before crossing the road.  Here is a partial list of things to look and listen for:

Track your competitors.

  • Who is saying what?
  • What platform(s) are most popular in these exchanges?

Observe industry issues/trends.

  • What is being talked about?
  • Where are they talking

Monitor your own company/organization/issues

  • Who’s talking? Are these people in my target audience or are they influencers of you target audience?
  • What are they saying?
  • Where are most of the conversations happening?
  • When are these dialogues taking place?
  • What does your company want to achieve in social media?

Once you have the answers to these questions, then you can make an educated decision about whether you need to simply have a passive presence or need to be actively involved and on what platforms. In this way, you are able to create a plan of action and decide how to best allocate resources.

As Seth Godin says, “It’s a process, not an event.” Social media is not something you should just jump in and “wing it.” It takes time, commitment and resources to be done right.

What tips would you offer someone who feels intimidated or tentative about using social media channels?