Google’s Acquisition of DeepMind Hints to More Intelligent Web Searches

Tags

, , , ,

It seems that Google is venturing into sci-fi territory with its latest acquisition. Or is it? Google has shelled out $500 million to acquire the UK startup DeepMind, according to TechCrunch. DeepMind focuses on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

screen-shot-2014-01-27-at-9-16-52-am

To date, Google’s true intentions regarding the acquisition of DeepMind have not been released. Google X Labs produces some innovative and helpful products (i.e. Google Glass and self-driving cars), so there is no shortage of opportunity to utilize artificial intelligence there. Google’s primary mission, though, is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” So it may very well implement new applications in artificial intelligence in more practical instances such as its Web search algorithm instead of trying to create self-aware machines.

 

Improving Search Results

Currently, Google’s internet search results rely on information and content that is properly labeled online. This is why SEO still involves a lot of care toward meta information, word content and descriptive anchor text for links. The exception to this is Google’s image search, which uses a mathematical algorithm to analyze image features to find the same or similar images that have been posted elsewhere online. But these internet search algorithms are woefully inadequate when searching for videos, audio files and interactive content like video games. Yes, these file types can be located when they are labeled correctly in their titles or descriptions, but otherwise these media types are completely missed by search engines.

Here is where artificial intelligence would be useful. By 2012 Google had already developed a neural network that made use of machine learning to recognize the content within YouTube videos. In this case, a “deep learning” model of artificial intelligence was used, where the machine’s conclusion was not based on pre-loaded knowledge and detailed sets of conditional statements but rather on a framework where the machine was able to create its own concepts. The result of this experiment: the computer was able to create the concept of, and identify, a cat, according to the Verge.

 

Artificial Intelligence: Separating Fact from Fiction

The fast-paced development of technology in the 21st century as well as our fascination with the possibilities presented to us through the world of science fiction has built up our belief that science makes just about anything possible. While we have in fact made extraordinary strides in technology thus far, we are still a long way from creating a machine with the intelligence to match anywhere near that of a human being.

The concepts of common sense and even understanding are still elusive in the field of artificial intelligence. Will Google Search ever be developed to the point where it can determine if Web content is humorous or not? Whether Web content is offensive? Google already dealt with this issue back in 2009 when, according to ABC, offensive images appeared as results for the search term “Michelle Obama.” The incident prompted Google to issue the following statement:

The beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google, as well as the opinions of the general public, do not determine or impact our search results.

So while Google does not ultimately feel responsible for the search results it provides, that doesn’t necessarily mean Google doesn’t want to offer users the refined search results they desire. Currently Google Safe Search for Web images censors search results by examining the content of the page hosting an image. It also analyzes images for being potentially explicit, although Chris Crum fromWeb Pro News found that many webmasters are finding their innocuous content blocked from search results because of such efforts. So it seems that an internet search engine that can reliably vet Web content is still an elusive goal.

Deep learning in artificial intelligence forms the foundation for automated machine learning. This can be applied to accomplish relatively simple things such as creating smart home appliances that can program themselves based on the unique activity in a home, teaching a robot how to climb stairs or, more importantly, understanding the purpose of stairs. Deep learning’s goal is to have the machine learn how to climb stairs and why they are used, instead of being programmed step-by-step on how to climb them. In this respect, the idea of machine being intelligent enough to be on par even with a seven-year-old human is still a good way into the future, although some experts say creating such a machine will be possible within the next 100 years.

 

What Makes DeepMind Unique

DeepMind’s moniker comes from an area of machine learning called deep learning. Deep learning tries to mimic the natural neural network in the brain by processing data by means of context, memory and positive reinforcement. Some of DeepMind’s coolest work has been training software to play video games where no information or rules about the video game were loaded onto the program before it started playing. The software learned how to play the video solely upon the positive/negative reinforcement of the game performance or score.

At one point, Facebook was also interested in acquiring DeepMind, according to Re/Code. Facebook’s interest may have lied in deep learning’s potential to make targeted online advertising truly dynamic. It turns out, however, that the world of deep learning experts is pretty small, with a good number of them still in, or fresh out of graduate school. So to say that the professionals at DeepMind and their work are in demand would be being quite modest.

In the end it seems that Google and other companies are looking towards the latest trends in artificial intelligence and determining how to use them in practical applications. While artificial intelligence will always be the mainstay of science fiction fantasies where it is a key feature of the autonomous computers and robots of the future, it’s fascinating to see how artificial intelligence is being used today to enhance our own personal daily technology uses and experiences.

 

This just in.

Google Acquires Artificial Intelligence Startup DeepMind For More Than $500M

How to Use Google Analytics to Track Your Pinterest Efforts

Tags

, , , , ,

FINALLY!!

Within Google Analytics you can measure the amount of traffic coming to your blog from most social networks including Pinterest.

Step 1: In the top right corner, select the date range you want to measure.

Select date range in Google Analytics

Step 2:From the menu on the right hand side of the screen select acquisition, then click on social.

Find social referrals in Google Analytics

Step 3:Click network referrals.

A screen will appear that lists the social networks referring traffic to your blog.  They will be listed in descending order from the network that sends the most traffic to your site down to the network that sends the least.

Measure social network referrals with Google Analytics

The resulting list will let you know how your traffic referrals from Pinterest stack up against other social networks. If you find that you are putting effort into Pinterest and seeing positive results, keep up the good work. If not, you might need to reassess you Pinterest strategy.

How to measure visits from your blog’s URLs shared on Pinterest

Step 1: From the network referral results list click on Pinterest.

In the example given, Pinterest is the top social network traffic refer, for your blog it might be lower on the list.

How to measure visits from your blog’s URLs shared on Pinterest

Step 2: When Pinterest is selected from the list a window will appear that shows the URLs from your blog that were linked to from Pinterest.

At the top of the list you’ll find the URL of the blog post or page that was most visited from Pinterest for the time period selected.

URLs linked from Pinterest

Having this information can be very helpful in determining what type of content resonates best with Pinterest users. Use this information to help guide future blog post topics and the images used in them.

How to measure which Pinterest pins are bringing you traffic

Each individual pin on Pinterest gets assigned its own URL. Google Analytics tracks how many times your site is visited from each individual pin.

Step 1: From the menu on the right hand side of the screen select acquisition, then click on all referrals.

Measure which Pinterest pins are bringing you traffic

Step 2: A list of all of the places online that refer traffic to your blog will appear.

Find Pinterest on the list and click.

Measure traffic from Pinterest pins

Step 3: A list of links from Pinterest that have referred traffic to your blog will appear.

On this list you might possibly see the link that comes from your Pinterest profile. This shows the importance of including the link to your blog in your profile. It gives Pinterest users a one-click way to get to your blog.

Pinterest pin links in Google Analytics

Screenshot 2013-12-16 09.31.15

There’s a small gray arrow next to each Pinterest pin. When clicked, it will open a new widow with that pin.

In this case, the top referring pin for this time period brought 163 visits to my blog. When I clicked on the gray arrow the pin below opened in a new window. I was surprised to see that is wasn’t a pin that was on my Pinterest board it was from another Pinterest account with over 1 million followers. It was repinned 43 times and liked 32 times.Track Pinterest pins in Google Analytics

I was sure to follow this pinner and repay the favor by following her and repinning from her Pinterest boards. Check the pins that are bringing traffic your way and you can find new accounts to follow that have already shown an interest in your content.

A word of caution, growth on Pinterest as with other social networks does take time. If you’ve only been active on Pinterest a short while you might not yet see Pinterest ranking high in your Google Analytics.

If you find that your efforts aren’t paying off after a significant amount of time you might need toreassess your Pinterest strategy. The amount of time varies depending on the amount of content you publish and your niche.

Google Analytics can provide you a wealth of knowledge about what is happening on your blog, taking a quick look to see if what you’re doing for Pinterest is really paying off and which pins are bringing visitors to your blog. You can use this information to learn more about the people who find your content interesting guide future blog posts or the kinds of images to use in your posts.

Why Google’s New Hummingbird Algorithm is Good News for Serious Content Creators

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Image of a Hummingbird

On October 3rd, 2013 Google announced a major search algorithm release called Hummingbird.

Uh-oh.

Does this mean your content-driven business is in jeopardy? Is keyword researchdead? Are you going to have to reengineer your entire content strategy?

There’s no question that the Hummingbird algorithm is only the beginning of change in search optimization, but smart content creators can be prepared to thrive in this — and any — environment that may come in the future.

This release is basically a platform that enables Google to better handle “conversational” search queries.

To illustrate this, consider the difference between these two queries:

  1. “golden gate pictures”
  2. “give me some pictures of the golden gate bridge”

 

The first query is formed the way people have learned to enter entries using a keyboard. This has been our primary input method since web search was born.

Keyboards are not natural human devices, and even for fast typists they are a bit of an awkward device to use, so learning to abbreviate queries to talk to a search engine is a generally accepted practice.

However, the rise of mobile device usage brings some new challenges.

The mobile keyboard cometh

While many continue to type with the keyboards on phones and tablets, they are a bit more awkward to use.

Over time, people are going to increasingly gravitate to voice search in environments where that is acceptable (e.g. environments where speaking to your device is not seen as intrusive).

Voice queries are far more likely to fall into the pattern of the second query above — natural language queries.

As in all things search, Google wants to dominate mobile search too.

Google wants to process “real” speech patterns

Having the best platform for processing conversational queries is an important part of that, and that’s where Hummingbird fits in, though it’s just the beginning of a long process.

Think of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm as a two-year-old child. So far it’s learned a few very basic concepts.

These concepts represent building blocks, and it is now possible to teach it even more concepts going forward. It appears that a lot of this learning is derived from the rich array of information that Google has on all search queries done on the web, including the query sequences.

For example, consider the following query sequence, starting with the user asking “give me some pictures of the transamerica building”:

 

The user looks at these results, and then decides to ask the next question, “how tall is it”:

 

Note that the latter query recognizes the word “it” as referring to the Transamerica Building because that was identified in the prior query. This is part of the sophistication of natural language queries.

Another example is the notion of comparison queries. Consider the query “pomegranate vs cranberry juice”:

 

The Knowledge Graph

These examples involve Google’s Knowledge Graph, where natural language search benefits from the ability to pull real-time answers to queries that understand the specific context of the query.

Note that the Knowledge Graph has accepted some forms of conversational queries for a while, but a big part of Hummingbird was about expanding this capability to the rest of Google search.

I have seen people argue about whether or not Hummingbird was just a front end translator for search queries, or whether it is really about understanding more complex types of user intent.

The practical examples we have now may behave more like the former, but make no mistake that Google wants to be able to do the latter as well.

The mind reading algorithm

Google wants to understand what is on your mind, well, before its on your mind.

Consider Google Now as ultimately being part of this mix. Imagine being able to have Google address search queries like these:

  1. Where do I find someone that can install my surround sound system?
  2. What year did the Sox lose that one game playoff?
  3. What are the predictions for the price of gas next summer?
  4. What time is my dinner on Tuesday night, where is it, and how do I get there?

No, these queries will not work right now, but it gives you some idea of where this is all headed.

These all require quite a bit of semantic analysis, as well as pulling in additional information including your personal context.

The 4th question I added was to show that Google is not likely to care if the search is happening across web sites, in your address book, or both. Not all of this is Hummingbird, per se, but it is all part of the larger landscape.

To give you an idea on how long this has taken to build, Google’s Amit Singhal first filed a patent called Search queries improved based on query semantic information in March of 2003. In short, development of this technology has taken a very long time, and is a very big deal.

The implications of a Hummingbird search world

It is important to remember that this step forward being described by Google as a new platform.

Like the Caffeine release Google did in June of 2010, the real import of this is yet to come. Google will be able to implement many more capabilities in the future. The implications to search in the long term are potentially huge.

For you as a publisher, the implications are more straightforward. Here are a few things to think about:

1. Will keywords go away?

Not entirely. The language you use is a key part of a semantic analysis of your content.

Hopefully, you abandoned the idea of using the same phrases over and over again in your content a long time ago. It will remain wise to have a straightforward definition of what the page is about in the page title.

I’ll elaborate a bit more on this in point 3 below.

2. Will Google make the long tail of search go away?

Not really. Some of the aspects that trigger long tail type search results may actually be inferred by Google rather than contained in the query. Or they may be in the user’s query itself. Some long tail user queries may also get distilled down to a simpler head term.

There will definitely be shifts here, but the exact path this will take is hard to project. In the long term though, the long tail will be defined by long tail human desires and needs, not keyword strings.

The language you use still matters, because it helps you communicate to users and Google what needs and desires you answer.

3. You need to understand your prospect’s possible intents

That is what Google is trying to do. They are trying to understand the human need, and provide that person with what they need.

Over time, users will be retrained to avoid short simple keyword-ese type queries and just say what they want. Note that this evolution is not likely to be rapid, as Google still has a long way to go still!

As a publisher, you should focus more attention on building pages for each of the different basic needs and intentions of the potential customers for your products and services. Start mapping those needs and use cases and design your site’s architecture, content, and use of language to address those.

In other words, know your audience. Doing this really well takes work, but it starts with knowing your potential customers or clients and why they might buy what you have to sell, and identifying the information they need first.

4. Semantic relevance is the new king

We used to speak about content being king, and that in some sense is still true, but it is becoming more complex than that now.

You now need to think about content that truly addresses specific wants and needs. Does your content communicate relevance to a specific want or need?

In addition, you can’t overlook the need to communicate your overall authority in a specific topic area. Do you answer the need better than anyone else?

While much of being seen as an authority involves other signals such as links, and perhaps some weight related to social shares and interaction, it also involvescreating in-depth content that does more than scratch the surface of a need.

Are you more in-depth than anyone else? If someone has some very specific scenarios for using your product or service, does your content communicate that you address it? Does your content really stand out in some way?

What’s it to you?

As noted above, this is going to be a journey for all of us.

While Google’s eventual destination is easy to imagine (think Star Trek’s on board computer), Hummingbird has only scratched the surface, and the steps along the way are hard to predict. That will be driven by very specific developments in technology.

For you, as an author, blogger, publisher though, your path is reasonably clear as well. Focus on becoming the recognized authority in your space.

Thanks to Bill Slawski of Go Fish Digital for input on some of the specifics of this article (note that all the speculations are mine, not Bill’s :) ).

What Google’s Hummingbird Update Means for Small Business

Tags

, , , , , ,

“Hummingbird’s emphasis on conversational search queries and natural language parallels the growth voice powered search via iPhones and Android devices,” said Amy Leefe, a digital marketing consultant at Arketi Group, a high-tech B2B public relations and digital marketing agency. “Google has been driving toward deeper support for long-tail queries for some time, and Hummingbird takes this further by concentrating on answers versus data.”

google1

This is because the keywords people use to search the Internet do not always reflect what they are actually looking for, unlike in real life or when using a voice search on mobile devices.

“For example, people may type things like ‘buy yoga mat Buckhead’ in Google on a browser, but would say a command verbally such as, ‘What’s the closest place to buy a yoga mat to my home?'” Leefe said. “A traditional search engine might focus on finding matches for keywords, such as finding a page that says ‘buy’ and ‘yoga mat,’ for example.”

Instead, Hummingbird helps Google understand the meaning behind those words to deliver better search results, Leefe said.

“It may better understand the actual location of your home, if you’ve shared that with Google,” she said. “It might understand that ‘place’ means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might get that ‘yoga mat’ is a particular type of workout supply carried by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings may help Google go beyond just finding pages with matching words.”

It’s up to businesses, however, to help Hummingbird tell Google that their page is the page users are looking for.

It’s up to businesses, however, to help Hummingbird tell Google that their page is the page users are looking for.

“Businesses need to consider as many queries as possible, and what the searcher could really be asking,” said Bill Sebald, owner of Greenlane Search Marketing, a search engine optimization consulting group. “If your business is relevant for a search like, ‘the best plasma TV to buy,’ are consumers looking for bang for their buck in this case? Or rationale as to why it’s the best? Popular opinion? Content should now expand to cover as many meanings as possible to be more appetizing to the Hummingbird algorithm.”

As an added benefit, the Hummingbird update also gives businesses more topics to write about and provides an opportunity to update older, evergreen content that suffers from short-sighted tunnel vision, Sebald said.

“Content for the sake of ‘words on a page’ doesn’t have the base value it once had,” Sebald said. “Now, your content really has to answer something. This should move content strategy higher on the list of business marketing objectives; it’s now even more important for desktop and mobile SEO.”

The Dark Side: Is Google Stealing My Data?

One of the biggest changes Hummingbird has to offer is search content displayed right on search pages.

“Say you were searching for Total Recall because you can’t remember what year it came out. If you type in ‘Total Recall,’ Google will bring you back the results it normally does, but on the side, where there was normally blank white space, it will show you the IMDB picture, description, release year, actors, etc.,” said Mike Evans, owner of Boost Rank SEO, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based SEO company.

Although this is helpful for users, it can do a disservice to businesses, Evans said. With this feature, Google not only scrapes content from other websites to display information on search pages, but the process also promotes a Google-only user experience.

“Basically, what Google is doing is trying to keep you on their properties as long as possible,” Evans said. Instead of visiting a website for the information, Google makes the data readily available.

“Imagine you were NBA.com and someone searched for ‘Miami Heat score.’ Google would scrape your site, take your information and display it on the search page. So instead of driving visitors to your site to check the scores, now they have all the information they need and go about their day — and you just lost a visitor,” he said.

In the case of Total Recall, Google also provides a “Watch It Now” link that will take users to Google Play, if applicable, Evans said. Similarly, a search for “flights to Los Angeles” will display airfares that direct users to Google Flight Search, and a search for Staples Center takes you to a Google event ticket search when you click on an event.

“Whenever possible, Google will try to route you to one of their properties, such as YouTube, Play, Picasa, etc.,” he said.

So what should businesses do when Google takes your data and uses it to prevent customers from visiting your website? Adapt, Evans said. “Businesses are going to have to offer something else to their visitors to make it worth the click for them to go to the site.” Although Google does not tolerate content scraping, Evans said businesses have to roll with the punches.

“The Big G gets to make up their own rules,” he said. “If they want to take your data, they do. As an Internet marketer, I’ve learned that’s just part of the game. You’ve got to adapt and roll with it.”

 

Brought to you by Marshable the social media go to guys

SEOs Freak – Google to Block All Organic Keyword Data

Tags

, , , ,

There is something in Google Analytics called (Not Provided). It is listed as a keyword in the Organic Search Traffic report section. This number represents the amount of non-paid searchers who came to a website who were logged into Google when they performed their search.

Give me Back my Keywords!

Search engine optimization experts and Internet marketers in general have been up in arms about this blocked data for some time. The main reason, the amount of blocked data in the (Not Provided) section just keeps growing. SEO experts had optimistically thought for a long time that this number would one day disappear and Google would graciously hand that data back over. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

On September 23, 2013 Google confirmed that they will be making all searches secure, except of course, Ad clicks. This change marks the beginning of an obstacle or opportunity, depending on how you look at it. The obstacle being, we lose all that easily accessible keyword search data. We will no longer know if terms are branded or non-branded. The opportunity being thatsavvy online marketers will find ways to get around this blocked data by Google.

Why Did Google Block this Data

The first question that arises in our mind is, why the heck did Google do this! It would be comparable to giving my new puppy Brody a treat and letting him chew on it for 5 minutes and then taking it away.

People speculate that they did this to (1) Entice people to buy more ads. If they have less data, then they need to spend more to learn more. (2) According to Search Engine Land, “In June, Google was accused of cooperating to give the NSA instant and direct access to its search data through the PRISM spying program, something the company has strongly denied. That hasn’t saved it from criticism.”

What Can SEO Professionals do About Blocked Organic Keyword Data

At this point, I am sorry to say, there is no easy answer. But one example of something thing you can do is take a look at the URLs that are getting organic search data. If you look at the URL, the keywords that URL is optimized for and match that up with ranking data you can get a pretty good picture of search traffic. There are also some workarounds you can do with Webmaster Tools as well as a few other less effective methods, but I’ll cover that in another post. I will say that I can almost guarantee an SEO software provided will make big bucks off creating a third-party tool that can accurately report on this data.

Summing It Up

It is too bad Google does stuff like this. Microsoft and Yahoo give you all the data you need, but Google seems to be so focused on squeezing out extra revenue that they often inhibit the people who use their products the most. While that is the case, where there is a problem there is an opportunity. Expect to see a post on the top ways to deal with this issue soon. Until then, take a look at Rand’s most recent whiteboard Friday. It covers a few good points, but it still leaves room for more ans

Google Analytics Email Marketing Dashboard For Beginners – This is a must read for anyone who uses Email Marketing

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Brought to you from the fine folks at Marketing Land and
Online Marketing Mavin Carrie Hill

With the sophisticated software and programs available today for email marketing, the state of emails I receive from huge corporations blows me away. Historically, email marketing has been an afterthought. There are those that do it well. Really well. But it seems to me that a majority of email marketing is this last-minute, “crap I forgot to do this,” throw something together, send-without-testing nightmare that converts a fraction of what it could — or nothing at all.

So, what is the difference between doing it right and doing it completely wrong? Tracking. If you’re consciously tracking how well your email marketing efforts are performing and truly analyzing the conversion rates, there’s no way you’d relegate it to last minute.

Read the entire article here Google Analytics Email Marketing Dashboard for Beginners

 

%d bloggers like this: