I will post this now as a "peek into the future" so in a few short years I can go back to this post and chuckle. This is definitely going to happen.
Pretty hard to believe this is even possible in 2013. Amazon loses $66K per minute. Looking at client accounts when Google went down, we definitely saw a dip in overall traffic. Amazing.
I rarely share articles but this one was too good to not post. As a search geek I often try to envision what's behind the hundreds and hundreds of clicks I do each day as a web and search professional. This is a great reminder that Google isn't intangible vapor. Its made of tangible assets like buildings, hardware (hundreds of thousands of processors), air conditioners, power generators, and people. I think its a good reminder to folks that Google exists in the real world. Its more than pixels on a computer screen.
Note to the author Steven Levy: I am jealous! What an awesome experience this must have been. The kind of peek you had into technology reminds me of what it was like when I was a kid in the 70s to go with my dad to Kennedy Space Center and see the Shuttle being built.
Quotes from the article and My comments:
Make no mistake, though: The green that motivates Google involves presidential portraiture. “Of course we love to save energy,” Hölzle says. “But take something like Gmail. We would lose a fair amount of money on Gmail if we did our data centers and servers the conventional way. Because of our efficiency, we can make the cost small enough that we can give it away for free.”
Users of gmail and YouTube watchers...Be reminded that your emailing and storage cost money to somebody! It's not vapor. Google has revolutionized energy to make this stuff happen. Their ground breaking leadership in energy management should be hailed as much of a modern marvel as its search capability itself. And don't forget how stinkin fast it is! Your query flies across the world and hits a physical machine, compares to a massive digital archive of all of human thought and history and gives you an answer in less than a second. That's insane. I remember spending hours researching papers in high school and even college where you flipped through card after card of a library index hoping you stumbled upon something relevant in one of the drawers you happen to choose. You remember these don't you?!
"How many servers does Google employ? It’s a question that has dogged observers since the company built its first data center. It has long stuck to “hundreds of thousands.” (There are 49,923 operating in the Lenoir facility on the day of my visit.) I will later come across a clue when I get a peek inside Google’s data center R&D facility in Mountain View. In a secure area, there’s a row of motherboards fixed to the wall, an honor roll of generations of Google’s homebrewed servers. One sits atop a tiny embossed plaque that reads JULY 9, 2008. GOOGLE’S MILLIONTH SERVER. But executives explain that this is a cumulative number, not necessarily an indication that Google has a million servers in operation at once."
Finally, can you imagine the brain power it took to develop software to integrate this?? Mind boggling. We are certainly one step closer to....
I gotta say, I am a little frightened and saddened. This should have been a giant red flag that the Internet was destined to be loaded with a giant heap of spam! Per this article, the image was posted as a test by Tim Berners-Lee while at CERN (in between attempts at atom smashing I guess)...or so the story goes.
Sounds dopey but I do.....I bought a wireless security system from Frontpoint Security a few years back and yesterday it impressed me again. This time I had to do a quick writeup about it as I am sure the folks at Frontpoint (and alarm.com) would appreciate it. Yesterday the power in my house went off suddenly and unexpectedly. Not knowing whether it was only our house or not, I pulled out my cell phone and was about ready to start calling neighbors and looking outside when I got two text messages from the security system....
Thus my security system told me that it wasn't just my house. I have to say I certainly did not expect my security system to provide me the information that I needed right then and there but it sure was super useful and timely! I knew there was no need to call the power company and wait on the line for minutes or hours. It saved me the hassle.
Naturally, I was also concerned with how long the power would be out because of food in the refrigerator/etc. I needed to leave the house but I knew that it would be alright to leave because I knew that I would receive another text as soon as it came back on. As expected, about two hours later I received a text from my security system saying the power was restored.
You can't beat that. Great feedback from a great system. Even better is that the system is completely wireless (so its mega easy to install which I did myself) and operated on a battery so we are never at risk if phone lines or power is cut to the house intentionally.
Besides this great experience with the power outage, I love other features like:
- I am able to watch my house with our security camera from my iphone...I can see inside my house anytime from anywhere. We set it up to keep an eye on our dear old dog when we were out but its come in handy for checking to see if lights were left on, shutters left open, etc. Here is a snapshot of the live interface on my phone.
- The system will text message me if I leave the garage door open. Early in our time in AZ, we unknowingly left our garage door open and found half of my power tools missing 5 minutes later. With a text reminder, we never accidentally leave the door open.
- In the Fall/Winter/Spring in AZ, doors and windows are open a lot. Without hunting around the house to make sure everything is closed at night, the status page on the iphone app tells me which are open at any time.
All of that is to say, I love this system and I hope Alarm.com/Frontpoint keep adding innovative features because I will use them.
Not that I am trying to sell a system but if you are interested, ask me/email me about a referral code and you can get a pretty sizeable discount if you buy ( I get a free month of monitoring service).
I thought I would post the article that I cowrote with Nadia King from Bazaarvoice here as well. Published January 10, 2012 on the Bazaarvoice social commerce blog. http://www.bazaarvoice.com/blog/2012/01/10/social-content-and-seo-higher-better-faster-stronger/
Note: This post was co-authored by Kurt Krake, Bazaarvoice advisory board member and President of Search-Werks
At this point, if you aren’t incorporating user-generated content (UGC) into your SEO content strategy, you are already behind. For several years, a trending topic in the SEO industry has been the power of “fresh” web content, that which is updated frequently. Benefits such as traffic from long tail keyword searches and boosted relevancy have always been very real, but an additional benefit has recently been given new attention.
After making infrastructure changes (called Caffeine) last year to allow for faster indexing & crawling of the web, Google recently announced a change to its “freshness algorithm,” which impacts what pages it shows to searchers, and is “designed to give you the most up-to-date results.” This algorithm change appears to affect up to 35% of Google searches which dwarfs the much talked about Panda Update. Doing back of the envelope calculations, this affects roughly 11K searches/second and over 30B searches per month. This is clearly further affirmation of the Query Deserves Freshness concept that the SEO community has observed over the last couple of years. Google’s blog post to announce this algorithm change has three key use cases to follow for many types of websites.
The first example of a search that requires fresh content applies to news-related topics, and Google mentions:
"Now when you search for current events like [occupy oakland protest]… you’ll see more high-quality pages that might only be minutes old."
So, for websites that have a tendency to show fresh content every time Googlebot shows up, it’s likely those will get a boost from this update.
The second example Google uses is a recurring event. For example, it’s unlikely that this calendar will remain the #1 result for “seo conferences”:
Third, the post highlighted product content, describing it as, “information that changes often, but isn’t really a hot topic or a recurring event." When content has been recently generated on an existing page, that page is more likely to rank than other pages with no new content. Google specifically discusses review content here, but this could apply to tweets, questions and answers, or any other type of user-generated content (UGC).
“Being a large merchant with hundreds of thousands of pages, it can be challenging to keep the entire site fresh,” commented a customer of ours, Mike Miller from Build.com, when we asked how he keeps his webpages fresh in the search engine algorithms:
“I've come across many websites that spend far too much time focusing on optimizing for search engines and not enough focus on the customer. I encourage my team to keep the customer top of mind at all times.
Promoting customers to submit product reviews and ask questions is an extremely useful method for keeping content fresh. Customers tend to trust each other, so by providing tools for them to share their experiences creates an enjoyable buying experience.”
Here are some ways to reap the benefits of Google’s focus on freshness.
Keep XML sitemaps updated
This oldie but goodie tactic is often rushed or overlooked entirely. By adding appropriate priority and last update flags to the URLs in your sitemap, you can indicate to Google when page content is new. Also include mobile pages andvideo content in your sitemap!
Add social and news feeds
Add recent blog headlines, newsfeed items, or your Twitter feeds to high visibility parts of your site because fresh content is what tends to get tweeted about most. This ensures that prominent areas of your site have the fresh content Google is looking for!
Keep your content current
Develop a content strategy for your website based not only on target keywords with lots of traffic, but also ever-changing keywords for current issues, topics, or trends. Use Google Insights and trending on Twitter as keyword research tools to identify those current issues that you can develop a video, blog post, or tweet about. For example, a Christian ministry site posted a blog about using the term “Xmas” instead of “Christmas” – Does Writing ‘Xmas’ Take Christ out of Christmas? Every holiday season, this is a popular subject, so the site incorporated it into their content strategy and posted their point of view. Since this post was timely, it generated lots of shares.
For major brand websites, which have been impacted both positively and negatively by this change, it is not practical to do large-scale content freshness updates to thousands of product detail pages individually. UGC is your best and most scalable method for meeting the freshness ranking signal across those pages (learn about our approach to content freshness).
As users, most of us probably realize the validity of finding the freshest content when we are looking for information. As web marketers, sometimes we forget that content we created just weeks ago may not be in line with this week’s topics or priorities. By following some of the steps above, you will not only be tackling long-tail traffic; you will also be improving your site’s relevance for topics that require freshness. Members of the Bazaarvoice SEO team have been speaking at conferences all year (most recently at #SESCHI) and during that time, companies have been eagerly finding out how to add UGC to their toolkit to benefit from fresh content. Go forth and be fresh!
What strategies do you use to increase the amount of “fresh” content on your site?
On a recent flight with a pilot friend of mine, I noticed yet another way the ipad has become more than just an entertainment and Facebook browsing device. My good friend Allan brought his iPad 2 and a leg strap along. After we got buckled in, the ipad went on the lap and up on the screen came a gps-enabled navigation application Foreflight. After watching how he used it for a minute, it was readily apparent how perfectly fit flight charts are for the iPad. Knowing how poor my battery life is on my iphone, I do have concerns about having a dead battery during flight but Allan didn't seem too concerned.
After learning a bit about how Allan uses it for private aviation, I did some research and discovered that American Airlines has adopted iPads for exactly the same use. Watch the video and you will hear that by replacing paper navigation maps/reference materials, they believe fleet-wide that they can save a sizeable amount of fuel dollars (the typical bag of maps that pilots carry weighs approximately 25 pounds each). Thankfully, the iPads will not come with wifi so your airline pilot won't be tempted to play Words with Friends.
This weekend, I had my first experience with a table-based mobile device at a chain restaurant. Different from the game systems many of us have seen, this one allowed you to order, check your bill, swipe and pay via credit card, and email yourself a receipt. My first thought was that it was more of a novelty than a useful device. By the time the meal was over, however, I realized why Chilis was investing in them. Our order was accurate, the server was able to focus on keeping us happy versus ferrying orders, bills, and credit cards back and forth and last but not least, we were in and out probably 20% faster than without the device. I found the experience more satisfying because I had more control over the order accuracy and most of all, not having to wait for the server to run credit cards. I did a quick search and found a slightly different and very valid perspective on the device - it is yet another distraction that sucks away from our ability to talk to one another and not act like mobile/electronic zombies (http://www.measurecp.com/2011/11/why-im-not-a-fan-of-chilis-tablet-kiosk/).
The technology was likely installed to increase the number of bills paid per table. Similar to a taxi driver going 100 mph to maximize # of fares paid per hour or Southwest airlines' famous rapid turnarounds to keep planes flying (if they aren't flying, they aren't generating revenue), Chili's is smartly maximizing bills per table per hour. I am sure the technology REALLY comes in handy when there are multiple bills per table. Good use of technology Chili's. Now we can all get fatter quicker.
In recent months, I have become more and more concerned about personal and business security for my various web accounts and devices. Essentially, a few security situations have popped up with family and friends as well as having read articles on people who experienced hacks. In one recent instance, a family member was coerced into believing that I had been robbed and in jail in Mexico. See this video and the FTC website for "the Grandparent scam".
Check out some of these incredible stories that should concern you:
- this one is very close to what happened in our family... "Mugged in Madrid" emails were sent out from a hacked Gmail account. This one is lengthy but worth the read.
- a Twitter employee with administrative access gets a dictionary hack by having the common word "happiness" as a password, celebrity Twitter accounts get taken over as a result
My recommendations aren't complicated, just the basics:
DONT TAKE IT FOR GRANTED....the hours and heartache and stress that come from the one time you get hit will more than balance out the time and effort you take over time to have good security habits.
SECURE YOUR PHONE AND TABLETS.... Your mobile devices are certainly a target. When all of your passwords, accounts, bank statements, etc. are on a desktop in your home, it is somewhat more secure physically. Now with mobile devices proliferating, access points into your personal information are with you in your car (which can easily be broken into as has happened to us twice in the last few years), in your pocket, everywhere you go and is easily loseable as I have done more than once with my phone.
IMPLEMENT STRONG PASSWORDS.... I like OnePassword. It definitely takes security to a new level with the ability to create 40+ character non-dictionary passwords and distribute across all of your devices easily. There are numerous password managers out there. Use one! Don't be the guy that uses one password for everything from social accounts to bank accounts. If someone cracks or steals one account, they have your whole life!
WATCH WHERE YOU CONNECT... Don't punch in passwords on open networks in coffee shops, airports, hotels, etc. where your activity can be logged by third parties.
DONT BE NAIVE ABOUT POSTS ON FACEBOOK....As a cousin who worked in military counter-intelligence recently said, if you wouldn't be willing to shout it out in a crowded restaurant, don't post it.
DONT CLICK ON LINKS AND ATTACHMENTS IN EMAILS....even from people you know, be super careful.
RUN VIRUS SOFTWARE AND ROUTINELY SCAN....we like Malware Malybytes, there are numerous apps to choose from on CNET.
DONT FORGET YOUR WIRELESS SIGNAL AT HOME....if your password is too easy and gets punched through, a lot of information is wide open to prying eyes.
This is clearly not a comprehensive list so what else should we put here? My approach has largely been gathered by talking to family and friends and reading articles. What additional advice does everyone have? POST IT! I want to learn from as many folks as I can.