December 30, 2017

Last social media updates of 2017: FCC, Facebook, Google and ITB itself!

Net neutrality: a big blow by US FCC

As was expected, FCC took a decision on December 14 to repeal its earlier policy on net neutrality. What it simply means is that a net provider company in the US will now be free to slow down or kill political views of a type, or fasten a particular news site, or serve some content free without the permission of the user. 

In theory it is no better than North Korea allowing only state-sponsored news in the country because there are now no bounds in the US on internet service providers (ISPs), but things would only as bad as dictated by commercial considerations and political or business pressures.  

It is also apprehended that big companies and innovators will wipe out the smaller ones trying to pose competition to them, just by bribing the ISPs, even buying them out.

Unless the Congress or courts take it down, FCC's ruling prevails and internet is going to be served according to the big ISPs' whims in the US.

ITB has been posting on this important aspect and its latest update was to welcome Indian TRAI's bold decision in favor of a neutral net

Google faces monopoly fine in Europe

Telegraph reports that comparison sites in the EU have been meeting EU's competition commissioner to complain against Google for being unfair with them in showing shopping results on search pages. They plan to formally lodge a complain which, if upheld by the commission, may result in stiff fines on Google, says the report.

Google was earlier fined by the European Union a record 2.4 billion Euro fine for abuse of its dominance. Google has been asked to comply with fair practices and explain how it wants to do so. Google has appealed against the order.

Facebook to penalize soliciting shares, likes etc

Examples of baits to get likes, shares, etc
Facebook has announced that it is going to demote posts that ask for sharing or liking a content, following etc that bait people into taking that action. Such practices artificially raise the content's popularity score. Facebook says, ... we will demote posts that go against one of our key News Feed values — authenticity. Similar to our other recent efforts to demote clickbait headlines and links to low-quality web page experiences, we want to reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.

Facebook now allows you to unfollow somebody temporarily

Facebook has introduced a 'snooze' option when you click on three dots on top of a post. When you snooze a friend, his/ her posts do not show up on your news feed for the next 30 days. You can similarly snooze a page or a group. You can reverse snooze whenever you like and re-snooze if you don't like to see their updates for another 30 days.

This feature was being tested for about two months and is now universally available.

What people searched the most on Google in 2017?

Google says, the following were the most searched terms in 2017:
  • overall: Hurricane Irma
  • people: Matt Lauer
  • consumer tech: IPhone 8
  • elections: French elections
  • sporting event: Wimbledon
  • movies: IT
  • recipe: Chicken breast
You can visit the long list here: Google search trends in 2017

What ITB brought to you in 2017 in social media updates

ITB carried 17 social media and blogging updates in 2017, which included 
  • reports on threats and harm to bloggers and their stories of courage, 
  • WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks, 
  • WikiLeaks telling how US state agencies snoop, 
  • huge Yahoo! and Equifax hacking episodes, 
  • the controversial monkey selfie, 
  • big decisions on net neutrality in the US and India, 
  • use of social media for crimes, 
  • studies on social media's effect on people's well-being, 
  • nations' right or wrong actions against social media, and also 
  • important new features announced by major social platforms.

December 24, 2017

allgudthings

All Gud Things


AllGudThings, a Travel and Lifestyle blog, is the brainchild of a couple travelers (Suruchi & Tashi), who are opposite to each other - in every way but aspire to see the whole world together in one small life. 

We see every day as a new challenge and fight with the courage to win it. 
-Suruchi

December 21, 2017

Fiverr traffic: Bloggers beware!

I am writing this short post prompted by questions blogger friends have asked about using traffic services from Fiverr.

If you don't know, Fiverr is one of the sites that sell services at a cheap price. As the name suggests, most of the offers here are for 5 dollars. There are thousands of people selling a poster, a passage editing service, a SEO plan, a web-audit... for $5 or its multiples. There are many others including FoverUp, GigBucks and Zeerk and SEOClerks.

On such penny-offer websites, a large number of people offer 'gigs' to do 'genuine' and 'proven' SEO and increase 'relevant' traffic manifold in a short time. They give hundreds of testimonials of 'satisfied' customers. 

I would request you to NOT fall for such offers, which look attractive because of claims and the very low price charged. The claims are mostly false and testimonials are mostly procured by force or are outright fake. Their claim of having sites with 'PR7 and above' and using  back-linking techniques that are Google approved are bunkum. They repeat the same sites and use methods that just cannot be to the liking of Google and other search engines because the traffic generated by them is paid traffic, nothing else. Moreover, most of their link-building or other work is automated, which makes them even more suspect in the eyes of search engines. 

If you buy a gig from such websites for your own website or blog, it is likely that your blog suffers minor or major penalties (depending upon the time for which you use their services and the level of fake and illegitimate traffic tricks they apply) from Google etc.

Isn't it foolish to think that if the so called 'PR7 and  above' websites are not known to Google as sham sites. Moreover, it is sure that the smart search engines of today are able to differentiate between the content on a high-reputation sites on one hand and a spam comment made on their posts or an account opened on their platform just to get a link.

Yes, there could be a very small number of genuine SEO techies who do part-time work on such platforms. But any search engine optimization done without thoroughly analyzing the website/ blog, even by genuine guys, is not likely a good SEO.

Bloggers beware! 

December 15, 2017

Coverr! Cover your site or project with a free video!

Let me introduce a new website in this edition of great free offers: Coverr - a stock video site.

Coverr has a collection of fantastic videos that you can download and use, ALL FOR FREE! According to Coverr, Coverr.co grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive copyright license to download, copy, modify, perform, and use videos from Coverr.co for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the Videographer or Coverr.co.
 
Yes, there are some restrictions relating to use of videos having logos/ brands and people.



So, want to give a video background to a project or a webpage? Or want to use a video to express your thoughts and feelings? Use videos for making messages with video background? Need a filler video clip? Coverr is the place to go!

There are dozens of videos there, not thousand, as of now. Most videos relate to technology, nature and urban life. Videos are small in length but of good quality. 

The site says, its videos were downloaded over a million times last year, and the biggest users were web designers. 

December 10, 2017

Blogging and social media updates: Mosul Eye blogger comes in open, Mother Mushroom gets jail, AIM goes down...

Blogger Omar's sustained blog posts open Mosul to the world in the face of death


Omar Mohammed, 31, is no longer the anonymous blogger who ran Mosul Eye for over three years, exposing IS atrocities in this historical city to the outside world.

Mosul Eye blog
Omar began his blogging journey with a Facebook page and then started a regular blog, MosulEye, on Wordpress in June 2014. He was one of the most credible voices reporting on ISIS atrocities in Mosul, and to escape IS wrath he had to remain anonymous. He has chosen to come in the open, now that Mosul has been salvaged from IS.

Assoiated Press reports this on his blogging adventure: He would wander the streets of occupied Mosul by day, chatting with shopkeepers and Islamic State fighters, visiting friends who worked at the hospital, swapping scraps of information. He grew out his hair and his beard and wore the shortened trousers required by the extremists. He forced himself to witness the beheadings and stonings, so he could hear killers call out the names of the condemned and their supposed crimes... By night, anonymously from his darkened room, Mosul Eye told the world what was happening. If caught, he too would be killed.
   

Vietnamese blogger sentenced to 10 year imprisonment

One year back, we carried this story on how 'Mother Mushroom', a popular blogger was booked in Vietnam for being vocal on the issue of corruption.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 37, now gets a 10-year jail term for propaganda against the state, after an appeal court upheld the sentence by a lower court.
  

Tumblr founder leaves the blogging platform

Tumblr founder, David Karp, is leaving his platform. He founded this very simple blogging platform in 2007, which was taken over by Yahoo! in 2013 for $1.1 billion. Karp was retained as CEO at a reported sum of $81 million for four years.

Now that Verizone has acquired Yahoo! and is streamlining its working in its own corporate way, Karp has announced that he'd leave the company soon.
 

AIM to shut down next week!

AOL Instant Messaging (AIM) is shutting down this 15th, after serving for 20 years as a chat application. In the 90's it was a rage in the US in the 90's and everybody would use it for communication with 'buddies'. Due to competition from other contemporary chat apps, then SMSs and finally the modern chat apps, its base had shrunk to a few millions and not being a mobile application it would die in any case even if AOL didn't close it.

Many in the US and elsewhere would say Adieu to AIM with a sad heart, but let the best technology prevail!
  

Netflix leaves pay channels behind in the US

Data provided by Statista on cable television and Netfix streaming videos shows that in terms of number of subscribers per quarter, the latter has surpassed cable TV first time in 2017. The trend shows that Netflix would keep the pace in fututure. Major cable TV providers did not lose much in terms of lost connections, which means people with cable TV are subscribing to Netflix more and more.

Of course, with higher viewing time per visit, users still are consuming more content on pay TV than Netflix.

With Netflix expanding its wings to many countries worldwide (220 by the latest count), and many social media platforms promoting video streaming, television viewing seems to be undergoing a big change.

Footprint of Netflix
   

Is the Russian 'disinformation' on US politics more subtle than thought earlier?

If you believe this article on Wired, Russians were active in quite subtle ways to influence US public opinion during the last elections. Taking a close look at three Twitter accounts and associated blogs, the article comes to the conclusion that though Russian state might not be involved, there is more to the language and content of political articles on these social media spaces. It says, "Russia's disinformation campaign around the US election spread well beyond Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. They were also blogging."

December 6, 2017

Why canonicalization is good SEO and how to implement it?

     

What does "canonical" mean?

   
In simple English, canonical means what is according to canon or rule. That means what is authoritative.

Canonical URL is more equal among equals.
In website/ search engine optimization terms, canonical has a similar connotation: the URL that you take as most authoritative out of many that point to the same web page.For example, the following URLs may refer to the same website: www.xyz.com, xyz.com, xyz.com/index.html, xyz.com/home.asp, xyz.com/index.htm, www.xyz.com/, https://www.xyz.com. In addition, one could be maintaining two websites with similar content but differing in some respects; in this case there would be two distinct URLs but with same content. Modern websites that are dynamic/ code-driven create a variety of URL paths, all referring to the same webpage, that result in dozens of URLs. 


Why is canonicalization necessary?

   
When the same website can be reached in different ways, it is not an issue as far as visitors are concerned. But that creates an issue with search engines. When a search engine finds same type of content in two or more webpages, it gets alerted that the content has been copy-pasted at two places (duplicate content alert) and thus sees it as an undesirable activity. Search engines also scoff at multiple URLs for the same page because this artificially bloats web-links and other references arising out of that page. As website owner, you lose in terms of poor SEO due to penalties from search engines.

In addition, when you have two websites with same content (arising dynamically or manually),  people visiting site 'A' might link or bookmark site 'A' while others visiting site 'B' might link site 'B'. Only part of the links are thus counted by Google or other search engines, depending upon which site is indexed by their bots.

The coding that is done to tell search engines about the canonical (=authoritative, preferred) URL out of more than one URLs is called canonicalization


How to implement canonicalization?

  
This is damn simple! You need to put this HTML element to all your websites that should redirect to your canonical URL: rel=canonical

1.  Decide which one of the alternate URLs suits you the best (e.g. which one is likely to be used most by visitors).

2. Go to <head> section of the homepage of each website and add this code, including on the canonical site:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://xyz.com"> 

(There used to be different opinions about using the HTML element given above on the canonical site itself also; it is now settled that this is rather useful than bad.)

3. Go to your Google Search Console (earlier 'Webmaster Tools') account if you have one; tell which is the canonical URL for a particular website.


Canonicalization on Wordpress and Blogger platforms

  
At present, blogs on Blogger platform are automatically given a canonical URL out of www and without www versions of the site URL. This applies to independent domains mapped to Blogger blogs also. For other versions, you can put the above given HTML expression in the code of the website(s).

In the case of Wordpress free blogs, canonicalization is not automatic. You have to implement that with the help of a SEO plugin. If you do not want to invest in that, the least you can do is to open a Google Search Console account, and canonicalize the website URL.

December 1, 2017

India's best fashion and beauty blogs in 2017

Fashion and beauty blogs have been popular in the western countries for some years and they earn good money through affiliate and display ads, guest posts, product reviews etc. India has lagged behind, not primarily because of lethargy or lack of imagination on the part of bloggers but primarily due to lack of market. 

Things are changing, and they are changing fast, and a number of good blogs in this niche have come up and some of them are reported to be flourishing. 

fashion and beauty blogging

ITB has a detailed post on beauty and fashion blogging, which looks relevant when you look at these blogs for information, tip or just inspiration.

This list is culled out from the Directory of Best Indian Blogs and has further been updated. This list may have omitted some 'lifestyle' blogs that have fashion or beauty as one of many sections but not enough resources on beauty and fashion niches.

akanksharedhu - Akanksha Redhu
bbeautilicious - Be Beautilicious
beautyandfashionfreaks - Beauty and Fashion Freaks
bhushavali - Fashion Panache
cherryontopblog - Cherry On Top
corallista - Corallista
cosmetopiadigest - Cosmetopia Digest
cosmochics - Cosmochic
curiouscomponents.in/ - Curious Components
fashion-bombay - Fashion Bombay
ftlofaot - for the love of fashion and other things
giasaysthat - Gia says that
guiltybytes - Guilty Bytes
highheelconfidential - High Heel Confidential
jhallidiva - Jhalli Diva
missstylefiesta - Miss Style Fiesta
newlove-makeup - New Love - Makeup
peachesandblush - Peaches & Blush
pinkandpink - Pink and Pink
purushu - Purushu Arie
stylishbynature - Stylish by Nature
tanvii - tanvii
thatbohogirlindex - That Boho Girl
thefashionflite - The Fashion Flite
thegirlatfirstavenue - The Girl At First Avenue
theindianbeauty - the Indian Beauty blog
thesnobjournal - The Snob Journal
vanitynoapologies - vna