5 things you should know about Google’s new privacy policy

With all of the buzz surrounding Google’s new privacy policy, you may be confused about the exact changes and how they will affect your internet usage. The bottom line is, the changes aim to improve the services that Google offers by making your Google experience more personalized.

The notification box that lets users know Google's privacy policy is changingHere are five things that everyone should know about the changes that will come occur when Google’s new policy takes effect on the 1st of March.

5. Google will gather information across all of its platforms

Google’s new policy puts the majority of its platforms into one privacy policy. Through this policy, Google will be able to put together a more holistic view of each user, as it can track one user’s data across all of its platforms together.

For you as user, this means that all of Google’s platforms will be more closely integrated than before and will allow you to work across multiple platforms at once more easily. Some critics however say that Google trying to create a ‘cauldron of data’ of its users.

4. You’ll see more personalized search results and advertisements

Since Google will be able to get a more complete view of you as a user, it will be using this information to personalize your internet experience more than ever before.

For example, this means that Google will tailor advertisements and search results to suit your specific needs, correct frequent spelling errors in search queries, remind you of appointments about which you may have forgotten, provide you with a suggested contact list, and much more. You can also contribute to the personalization of your internet experience by using features like the Ads Preference Manager to take control of what kind of advertisements you see.

These changes should help to improve user experience, as well as Google’s profits, as users are more likely to click on ads more relevant to them.

3. The more Google services you use the more you should benefit from the changes

Because Google will rely on your user information across all of its platforms to determine what type of advertisements, search results, and more are best for you, the more Google services you use, the more improvements you will be likely to see.

This is because if you use a host of Google services, such as all of those included in Google Apps, Google will be able to get the most complete picture of who you are, what you look for online, and how you generally use the internet. To track your usage of Google services, you can use the Google Dashboard to see your activity as a Google user.

2. You can still use Google services without it logging your data

Although allowing Google to learn information about your online usage will provide a more personalized experience, there may be times when you don’t want Google to collect certain information about you.

In these instances, you can utilize Google tools like “off the record” chat in Gmail and the “incognito window” in the Google Chrome web browser to ensure that all of your data will not be logged by Google.

However it is thought that Google will try to persuade users to remain logged in and connected through their Google profile, more of the time.

1. Google believes the new policy will allow it to better meet your needs

Google redid its privacy policy because it believes the changes will enable it to offer each individual user a more tailored, better experience of the web. In summary, Google is hoping to meet your needs better and faster by learning who you are and what you look for online.

What do you think about the proposed changes? Do you think you will benefit?

Tips to improve your mobile SEO

Mobile search engines contain different algorithms and bots than used for traditional web searches. They evaluate websites as it is being rendered on a mobile phone. The ranks are computed based on how well the page is rendered for the phone that submits the queries. One thing you can do to improve your mobile SEO is to make verify the user agents, and the mobile crawlers can pick up your content.

Mobile phone search engines are not as finely tuned as traditional search engines. They are still placing tons of weight on bounce rates and using mobile visitors as barometers for how websites renders on phones.

One neat suggestion in improving your mobile search results is to follow traditional SEO strategies. Mobile indexes and bots determine different from web search. The differences entail things such as alt tags; heading tags and title tags are still dominant with mobile SEO.

After performing traditional SEO strategies, it proves necessary to create a secondary mobile sheet from your website. This will allow for formatting of existing pages to be viewed on mobile phones without having to create separate content. It gives you strength with the SEO value that you have already performed on your website minus creating new pages. You can use the mobile style sheet to assist in blocking things from being rendered with using a “display: none” on the style sheet. All mobile phones with the exception of iPhones can automatically pull the “handheld” style sheet.

iPhones determine different with not searching for mobile “handheld” style sheets. In addressing this critical problem, ensure that you copy your handheld sheet, and create on that is geared for the iPhone. The iPhone is meant to render entire website pages, and people statistically still prefer mobile-formatted content on their iPhones.

What Google search results look like on a smartphoneSometimes, mobile search engines will rank traditional pages but consider them ill-suited for rending on mobile phones even with mobile-specific style sheets. When this happens, the mobile search engine will rank the traditional content but “transcode” it for viewing on mobile phones.

Transcoded versions of websites are hosted on temporary subdomains on search engine’s domains. Typically, this provides a user experience that proves under-optimized. This is because navigation sometimes is broken or misplaced and the individual pages are separated into different pages for faster downloading. This can prove problematic when it comes to tracking activity on your mobile website, and if someone links to your content, the website might not receive credit for the links. Address this problem with a “no-transform”header of your content. The no-transform in the cache-control should stop transcoding.

Next, you should include a mobile-site map. Google provides tools that can help you in building one of these. For website owners using multiple-markup languages such as WML (Wireless Markup Language) or XHTML, you should submit separate mobile sitemaps per languages being used on the website. Ensure that you link to mobile site maps in your robots.txt file, the same as you would for traditional site maps.

When you are submitting a mobile site map, add the mobile style sheet and the no-transform tag for this should confirm fitting in getting the mobile search engines to rank your content.  Another excellent tip is to make sure your traditional content will work on mobile phones. This will provide the best chance of faring well with higher numbers of browsers and phones.

If your content on your website does not include external style sheets, or contains sloppy code or too many media files, the content will have problems rending on mobile phones. You might want to make mobile-specific content on a mobile sub-directory or sub-domain. This can generate tons of problems for SEO strategists because it can end-up splitting traffic and links between two sets of similar pages.

You should use a “handheld” style sheet with the no-transform designation. You can also re-arrange code so that it proves more suited for crawling and rendering. Redirection and browser-detection and self-selection are how websites and mobile phones interact with one another. Browser detection and re-direction is the process that appears to see what browser the website visitor is using to access your website. If the mobile browser is requesting the traditional website, a single PHP script can redirect the user to the mobile phone website. If a browser is requesting the mobile website, it can redirect them to the traditional website. This proves helpful if your website out-ranks your mobile website in mobile searches.

When you think of mobile SEO, the act alone proves dangerous to create a duplicate copy of your website and placing it in a sub-domain. Most website owners think that mobile phones are capable of interpreting the duplication, but unbelievably, they can become confused. When confusion occurs, your new mobile content has a very-little chance of outranking your traditional website in the mobile searches. Redirection and browser-detection should take care of these issues, but there is always a chance of duplicate content taking away value from the content located on the main website.

If this happens, you can try using a canonical tag that will promote the value from your mobile website back to your main website. You can then rely on your browser-detection and re-direction to take care of it. What proves dangerous in this scenario is that you might hurt your rankings for searches on the primitive mobile phones. The reason is that you are pushing the total SEO value into non-mobile content.

Is paying for music a thing of the past?

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With the availability of streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio all available for free and unlimited access, there are fewer people than ever actually paying for their music. According to a recent article on TechCrunch, Tom Conrad, the CTO of Pandora, said that about 50 percent of Americans don’t pay anything for music while another 40 percent only pay $15 a year for it.

If you were to walk into a big retail shop ten years ago, one of the biggest sections in the electronic media department would have been a massive collection of compact discs. Today with the likes of iPhone, and Android, CD’s have made technologies like compact discs seem old and obsolete technologies of the past.

The biggest culprit to the recording industry has been the proliferation of bit torrents and peer-to-peer piracy software. According to Torrent Freak, the Canadian Broadband Management Company says that forty percent of all internet traffic in North America comes from either Netflix or Bit Torrent. While the original intention of this sharing software was to make it easier for business to transfer important files, most of the traffic from it today comes from the illegal trade of music, television shows, and movies.

While services like Pandora, Spotify, and Rhapsody have a paid-premium option available, their free services are so convenient that there is no real reason to purchase them. Unless you want a completely advertising-free experience or simply want an unlimited data cap on what you can access per a week, the free versions of these programs work just as well and include almost all of the features. Ironically, the only companies that actually have to purchase these plans are the small retail stores that are selling you the music.

Spotify's LogoThe RIAA is having an abysmal time selling digital copies of singles and albums to consumers. Not only are the versions that are available online cheaper and make less money, they are also much easier to steal, copy, and distribute illegally over the internet. Google is partially to blame for this widespread availability of illegally traded music.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, if you type in your favourite artist into a Google search, several unauthorized and pirated versions of the song will show up available for stream or download. While Google is not implicitly to blame for this, they are turning a blind eye to the practice by ranking them higher in search results.

The person who is most responsible for the digitisation of music is the late Steve Jobs. When the iPod first appeared on the market, Steve spearheaded the movement to make iTunes the ultimate way to purchase music online. In an article in the Inquirer, David Hughes (head of technology at the RIAA) claimed that Steve was a hypocrite for claiming to be a spiritual leader but not putting enough piracy protection on digital downloads.

There is no turning back from the digital way of selling and listening to music. We have come too far in our technological advances and reverting to older methods such as CD’s and cassettes would seriously hamper our tech advances.

The music industry will need to find new ways to make income such as advertising, product placement, and incorporation in order to continue to make a profit… or it could just go away and make music an art form.