Google admits to accidentally collecting e-mails, URLs, passwords

Google admitted in a blog post Friday that external regulators have discovered that e-mails, URLs and passwords were collected and stored in a technical mishap, while the vehicles for Google’s Street View service were out documenting roadway locations.

According to Google, data was mistakenly collected in more than 30 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, some of Europe, and parts of Asia.

In the blog, posted by Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research, he noted "we failed badly here" and added that Google has spent months analyzing how to strengthen their internal privacy and security practices.

"We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and I would like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it in the first place," Eustace wrote.

Google announced in May that it had collected unencrypted WiFi data by mistake through its Street View service, but the severity of the situation was unknown.

According to a Google spokesperson, the company first became aware of the problem when the Data Protection Authority in Germany asked Google to review all of the data collected through its Street View cars as part of a routine check. The spokesperson added that in addition to street locations, Street View cars also collect WiFi data about hot spots in order to improve the location database for things such as Google Maps for mobile.

When Google went back and looked at the data, it turned out that in addition to WiFi hot spots, they were mistakenly collecting information that was being sent across unencrypted networks.

For the information to have been collected by Google, a person had to have been sending something over an unencrypted network at the same time that a Street View car was collecting data in that same location.

According to Google, the vast majority of the data is in fragments, but in the past week several countries have issued reports that they have found entire emails and passwords.

The data has since been segregated and secured, and WiFi data is no longer being collected from Street View cars.

Google has deleted the data collected from Ireland, Austria, Denmark and Hong Kong, but other countries have opened their own investigations, and Google has not been given permission from authorities to delete the data.

In a statement, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said, "This alarming admission that Google collected entire e-mails and passwords validates and heightens our significant concerns. Our multistate investigation, led by Connecticut, into Google’s alleged invasion of privacy through wireless networks is continuing."

In the blog post, Eustace outlined the steps that Google is taking to strengthen its internal privacy and security practices including appointing a director of privacy across both engineering and product management and enhancing the core training that engineers and employees responsible for data collection receive.

"We are mortified by what happened, but confident that these changes to our processes and structure will significantly improve our internal privacy and security practices for the benefit of all our users," Eustace wrote.

Story by Marina Landis, CNN – www.cnn.com

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Google Gains Search Ground

comscore us search engine sept 10thumb Google Gains Search Ground

Google gained ground in its dominance of the US explicit and total core search markets in September 2010, according to monthly comScore qSearch analysis.

Google Takes Larger Share of Explicit Core Search
Google Sites held 66.1% of the US explicit core search market (which measures user engagement with a search service with the intent to retrieve search results) in September 2010, up 1% from 65.4% in August 2010.

Second-ranked Yahoo Sites lost 4% of its explicit core search market share, dropping from 17.4% to 16.7%. No other explicit core search provider experienced significant month-over-month fluctuation.

More Explicit Core Search Queries Performed via Google, Microsoft
More than 16 billion explicit core searches were conducted in September 2010, up 2% from 15.7 billion the previous month. Google Sites ranked first with 10.6 billion searches, up 3% from 10.2 billion searches; followed by Yahoo Sites in second with 2.7 billion, down 2% from slightly more than that total the previous month.

comscore us search engine by number of queries sept 10.thumbnail Google Gains Search Ground

Microsoft Sites came in third with 1.8 billion explicit core searches, up 3% from 1.7 billion.

Google Also Grows Total Core Search Share
Google Sites accounted for 63% of total US core search queries conducted in August 2010, up 4% from a 60.5% share the previous month. Yahoo Sites followed with 19%, down 9.5% from 21% the previous month, and Microsoft Sites came in third with 12.5%, down about 2% from 12.8% in August 2010.

comscore us search engine total core sept 10.thumbnail Google Gains Search Ground

Google Sites Jumps in Total Core Search Queries
The total number of core search queries performed via Google Sites jumped 8%, from 10.2 billion to 11.1 billion. Meanwhile, second place Yahoo Sites lost 5%, dropping from 3.6 billion to 3.4 billion. Third place Microsoft Sites increased its total number of core search queries 2%, from 2.16 billion to 2.2 billion.

comscore us search engine total core by number of queries sept 10.thumbnail Google Gains Search Ground

Total US core search queries grew 4% in September 2010, rising from 16.9 billion in August 2010 to 17.7 billion.

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Google Page Indexing Creates Leads

Getting your site ranked highly on search engines is one of the fundamentals of SEO, just how you go about that is a topic which creates a lot of discussion, which method works best, and is off page optimisation more effective than on page optimisation, and how valuable are links or votes that are directed to your site from other web sites on the net.

I’ve always worked on the premise that I get as many of these factors working for me when optimising a site and a very effective tool to get high rankings is relevancy to the subject you’re trying to rank for. Getting as many of your URL’s or pages indexed by the search engines can lead to an increase in both traffic and conversions. So I thought this research from HubSpot would be of interest to you.

The more pages a company has indexed by Google, the more leads it will generate, according to research by internet marketing firm Hubspot.

Incremental Indexed Pages Can Cause Double-digit Lead Growth
There is a strong positive correlation between the number of Google indexed pages and median leads. An incremental increase of 50-100 pages indexed by Google can cause lead growth in double-digit percentages. For example, going from 60-120 indexed pages to 121-175 indexed pages can increase a company’s median leads from seven to 12, creating 58.3% growth.

 

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The most significant improvement in median lead growth comes when a company increases its indexed pages from the 176-310 range to the 311-plus range. Median leads skyrocket from 22 to 74, representing triple-digit 236% growth. After exceeding the 311 indexed pages mark, median lead growth subsides.

Size Not Critical Factor
Overall, Hubspot research indicates that size is not a critical factor for achieving significant volumes of Google indexed pages. Size and number of pages are mildly positively correlated, mostly in the extreme categories of indexed pages.

 

hubspotgoogleindexcompanysizeapr2010 thumb Google Page Indexing Creates Leads

While HubSpot’s large customers formed the biggest group with 311 or more indexed pages in Google, small and medium-sized customers together outnumbered large ones in this category, 57% – 43%. In addition, small customers formed the largest group with 176 to 310 Google indexed pages (39%).

As might be expected, small customers do form the largest group within the less than 60 (53%) and 61-120 (54%) indexed pages categories.

Marketing Takeaways
Hubspot advises marketers considering a Google page indexing program to use the following techniques:

  • Build page volume: Consider starting a blog to quickly increase the number of indexed pages.
  • Improve each page’s optimization as per Google’s methodology to maximize chances of having all corporate web pages included in the index.
  • On-page search engine optimization: Place keywords in the right places on web pages such that Google and other search engines know what each page of a company’s web site is about, and what keywords to rank it for.
  • Off-page search engine optimization: Build inbound links from reputable sites, thus demonstrating a company’s popularity to search engines.
  • Inbound links do not generate more leads, but do generate more unique visitors.

Google Dominates Core Search
Google Sites clearly dominate US internet users’ core search activities, according to comScore. In March 2010, Google Sites led the core search market with 65.1% market share and 10.05 billion core searches, up 6% from February 2010. Both of these statistics represent the continuation of long-term core search trends.

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Google Real Time Search & Social Media

1096v1 max 450x450 Google Real Time Search & Social Media

Real Time search on Google

Ok, if you been putting off starting a blog or using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it’s time now to think again and very seriously. With the launch yesterday of Google real time search, it opens up a world of opportunity for bloggers and social media users to get their efforts at the top of the search rankings, Google now pulls information as it happens from sources such as friendfeed, Twitter and Facebook as well as blog posts and news feeds.

This is essentially Googles answer to Twitters and Facebooks search engines which provide up to the minute updates on trending topics, and it was a natural extension for it to be applied to search engines, after all they are trying to give you the best response to your search query.

Real time search will enable information to be delivered as it happens, by clicking on “Latest results” or selecting “Latest” from the search options menu to view a full page of live tweets, blogs, news and other web content scrolling right on Google.

You can also filter your results to see only “Updates” from micro-blogs like Twitter, FriendFeed, Jaiku and others.

Latest results and the new search options are also designed for iPhone and Android devices when you need them on the go, be it a quick glance at changing information like ski conditions or opening night chatter about a new movie — right when you’re in line to buy tickets.

So there you have it, create your blog and start writing, and by creating good quality content on your blog or social media network, you might just end up in the number one spot on Google.

It’s the freshness factor that is also important when it comes to getting your information ranked high on Google and now with real time search, you can get fresh up to date information on trending or newsworthy stories as they happen.

If you’d  like to start a blog and don’t know where to start, visit Blogging for Business Packages and get started today.

 Google Real Time Search & Social Media

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Online Reputation Management – A Subtle Reminder

300px Optus New.svg Online Reputation Management   A Subtle Reminder

Optus brand reputation management non existent

I recently invested in the new iPhone and have really enjoyed exploring the technology, however just recently I’ve noticed a recurring problem and that is my iPhone will drop out during both received and dialed phone calls.  So you can imagine my frustration when on a call and the call drops out, this happens at least 2 out of every 10 calls. So like most people today, I decided to search for the problem or I should say solution on Google, and what did i find? loads of information on the problems the iPhone network, in particular the Optus 3G network is having, and why there are drop outs. This information ironically, being provided by forum sites and other disgruntled consumers experiencing the same problem, nothing from the network that I’m with, which is Optus.

The number one result on my search query on Google is a forum site and contained within this site are numerous complaints about the drop outs, all citing the Optus 3G network not being up to spec as the cause of the problem, there are also complaints about Optus customer service and the lack of responce by Optus to customer complaints, some taking up to 2 weeks just to get a return phone call. But the interesting thing to me is the total lack of input from Optus on this site, now surely you’d think that a service company would be either monitoring this site or at least have a strategy to deal with all this negativity about their product and service, and don’t think that Telstra is any better at dealing with complaints, because they are not.

This brings me to the impact that social media has on brand building, consumers now have the ability to complain publicly about issues they are having with any company, and a simple search on Google will usually brings these forum and blog sites up at the top of the search, making them easily accessible to anyone wanting information or to complain about the service or lack of it from any company.

Business today needs to be very aware of the impact these sites can have on generating business from the web, and an effective web based brand monitoring strategy needs to be implemented and service related industries including real estate offices and agents really need to make sure they have both a monitoring and response strategy in place… Now I don’t know if Optus monitors or is even aware that these sites are on the web, but they should, the comments, complaints and opinions of current customers should be a prime concern, because if I’d read this forum before getting my iPhone, i would never have used Optus, and to allow the comments found on the forum site to continue without company moderation or input is just plain stupid.

So beware, take your on line reputation very seriously, you don’t want your brand or reputation destroyed on the web, imagine if you did a Google search on a prospective employee and found complaints and comments about them, complaints about their lack of service and response or their rudeness in dealing with clients, would you then hire that person? No I didn’t think so, well it works both ways.

You can no longer take your reputation for granted, you need to set up your strategy and a good place to start is by using this 3 phase process:

  • Monitor
  • Manage
  • Repair

Start by monitoring what is being said about you or your brand on line, and you can do this by simply creating a Google alert for your brand name or keyword, if your brand is mentioned on the web then Google will notify you via email once a day of who,what and where you were mentioned.

This is the easiest and cheapest way to keep track of your reputation.

 Online Reputation Management   A Subtle Reminder

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Asia Pacific Search Volume Reaches Record Level in September

New research out today highlights the growth in local search rates in the Asia Pacific region with Google continuing to dominate as the preferred search engine particularly in Australia with 83% share and New Zealand with 80.5% share.

This really does demonstrate that you need to get your web site up to scratch when it comes to getting a high ranking in the search results, make sure your site ranks highly for those keywords or phrases that your customers use, and if you don”t know what they are then please ask me and I’ll do a free SEO audit on your web site for you.

The study found that 38.6 billion searches were conducted in the region in September 2009, with searchers averaging nearly 88 queries per person during the month. Google Sites ranked as the top search destination in Asia Pacific, commanding more than 44 percent share of searches performed in the region.

Google Sites Captures Largest Share of Search in Asia Pacific

In September 2009, Internet users in Asia Pacific conducted 38.6 billion search queries, an increase of 33 percent from the previous year. Google Sites was the top search destination with nearly 17 billion searches performed on its sites during the month, accounting for 44.1 percent share of all searches in the region. Baidu.com Inc. followed with 8.2 billion searches (21.3 percent share), while Yahoo! Sites grabbed the #3 position with 5.3 billion searches (13.8 percent share).

Searchers in the region averaged nearly 88 searches per person during September. South Korea’s NHN Corporation, which owns search engine Naver.com, saw the most prolific search intensity among the top 10 destinations with an average of 81 searches per searcher. Searchers on Google Sites averaged 59 searches per person, while searchers on Lycos Sites averaged 51 queries.

Top 10 Search Properties in Asia Pacific by No. of Searches
September 2009
Total Asia Pacific Internet Audience*, Age 15+ – Home & Work Locations
Source: comScore qSearch
Searches (MM) Share of Searches Searches Per Searcher
Total Internet 38,585 100.0% 87.5
Google Sites 16,997 44.1% 58.5
Baidu.com Inc. 8,228 21.3% 44.5
Yahoo! Sites 5,340 13.8% 41.3
NHN Corporation 1,959 5.1% 80.5
Microsoft Sites 1,093 2.8% 9.5
Lycos Sites 997 2.6% 51.0
Alibaba.com Corporation 949 2.5% 15.6
Tencent Inc. 790 2.0% 8.6
Facebook.com 259 0.7% 8.0
Sohu.com Inc. 230 0.6% 8.9

*Excludes visitation from public computers such as Internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs.

Local Players and Global Brands Compete for Searcher Loyalty Across Markets

An analysis of top search destinations across the 10 individual markets in the Asia-Pacific region currently reported by comScore revealed various search brand preferences across markets. Google Sites was the search market share leader in six of the markets including Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore. Yahoo! Sites captured the majority share of searches in Hong Kong (58.9 percent) and Taiwan (65.4 percent).

Although multinational search brands led many of the markets in the region, the popularity of local brands was evident in both China and South Korea. Baidu.com Inc. led as China’s top search destination with 63 percent share of searches performed, while NHN Corporation captured 49.3 percent of queries in Korea, leading the market as the top destination.

Top Search Property in Individual Asia Pacific Markets by Share of Searches
September 2009
Total Internet Audience*, Age 15+ – Home & Work Locations
Source: comScore qSearch
Top Search Property in Market Share of Searches
Australia Google Sites 83.4%
China Baidu.com Inc. 63.0%
Hong Kong Yahoo! Sites 58.9%
India Google Sites 89.1%
Japan Google Sites 47.5%
Malaysia Google Sites 71.1%
New Zealand Google Sites 80.5%
Singapore Google Sites 72.3%
South Korea NHN Corporation 49.3%
Taiwan Yahoo! Sites 65.4%

*Excludes visitation from public computers such as Internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs.

The report is compiled by ComScore,a leader in measuring the digital world

 Asia Pacific Search Volume Reaches Record Level in September

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Get the SEO Tick of Approval for Your Real Estate Web Site

29578v7 max 450x450 Get the SEO Tick of Approval for Your Real Estate Web Site

Get Your Free Web Site SEO Health Check

Last week I wrote an article on this blog about the importance of an SEO strategy for your real estate web site and in talking to a number of agents recently, it is one of the most neglected areas of Internet marketing by real estate offices.

Your web site is your link to the on line property searcher and making that web site not only be found on the web, but making sure it ranks in the top 10 results on Google and Bing for the terms that people search should be high on your agenda.

Some facts that you’re probably not aware of and published by the Commonwealth Bank about searching, reveal the way of the future when it comes to how consumers search on the web. Last year 75% of people did not use Yellow Pages, so where did they go to research business? to the web of course. Over 80% of consumers use the web to research purchase decisions and products, and that is why your web site needs to rank well on Google and other search engines including Yahoo and Bing.

How much do you spend per year on promoting your business on Yellow Pages? why not divert some of that into making sure your web site is performing as well as it should. It is a known fact that Google continually update their search algorithms and your web site needs to be constantly tweaked to make sure it is search engine friendly and searchable by search engines.

Don’t take it for granted that your web master will have set it up correctly, in my experience most of them don’t, so make sure it performs for you, their were over 16.6 million searches last month for the term real estate in Australia and if you don’t rank, you don’t get the business. Don’t think that getting your web site optimised is expensive, because it isn’t, and the return on your investment is worth every penny you’ll spend on SEO.

To help you find out how your site performs I’ve organised for SEOBOSS, an SEO Optimisation company to give your web site a SEO health check for free, they will analyse your site for the most searched industry keywords and then send you a report and a recommendation on how you can improve your site, what’s it cost? Nothing.

If you’d like to get  your web site checked then click on the link and SEOBOSS will do the rest. Give me my SEO Health Check

 Get the SEO Tick of Approval for Your Real Estate Web Site

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Writing Your Listings For Google and Search Engines

Earlier this week I was a presenter at a training session in Sydney run by one of the major real estate franchise groups, and my topic for the session was “How to Market More Effectively Using On Line Technology” , or in other wards, how to write better copy to be found on the search engines such as Google and Bing.

The first part of the day focused on writing for print, and the presentation really was quite good, it focused on writing clean copy with no clutter and writing catchy headlines and avoiding cliche’s.

A lot of time and effort went in to focusing on the print side, how to submit your editorial, when was the best time to do so, what style of writing does the editor like etc, and then, when looking at the end result, which had been written up on a white board, I thought about how those headlines or keywords would research on the web. A lot of agents simply copy and paste their print copy onto the web, with no consideration of keywords, search phrases etc.

You really have no idea whether your copy or headline will have any impact on the property searcher unless you have a clear understanding of how they search on the web, what phrases do they use, what are the trigger words or keywords they search for, these are all the questions you need to answer before you submit your copy to the web.

It’s even more important today, with Google’s real estate section now publishing listings, because anything that is published on the web, will be indexed by search engines, so make sure you start to optimise your copy with keywords or phrases that target your market, if you don’t, you’ll end up not showing on the search results, or being missed by your buyers, and whilst those headlines look OK in print, they may not work on the web.

With 9 out of 10 property searchers starting their property search on the web, how much time are you going to spend on your research to get it right. So lets give you a few ideas on where to start: A really good place to start your research is in your own office and for a refresher please read my earlier post “Choosing the right Keywords for your Content”

The post I’ve highlighted will give you some really good ideas on keyword research, so next time you sit down and start brainstorming ideas for your headlines and listing copy, give some thought on how your buyer searches on the web and what phrases or words they use, if you do that you’ll have a head start on getting your property found on the web.

 Writing Your Listings For Google and Search Engines

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Choosing The Right Keywords For Your Content

How do you choose the right keywords for your piece of copy or blog post to really make sure that you’ll get readers to your blog or that you’ll get a good ranking on Google. It’s hard sometimes when writing, to find the right keywords to use, and even harder to put them into sentences that are optimised for the Internet. So I’ve decided to write a little piece on it for you, and give you a few ideas on how you can choose those keywords and then check to make sure they have enough search volume to rank. Remember my post on Red Widgets and how to include keywords in your article to get a good rank on the search engines, well lets now look choosing the right keywords for your target market.

The first thing to do in your real estate office, and this works really well with any business, is to sit down with all your staff and find out the most commonly used words or phrases your customers use when they contact your office, either by phone or face to face, create a list of these words and then identify the words or phrases most often used.

Develop these into profiles, you could for example have a first home buyer profile, or an investor profile, a green profile, a retiree profile etc.

Determine which one of these groups your article is targeted too and then weave the words that are keywords from each group into your body copy when writing your article.

Technology can be of real benefit to you here, as you can use Google Adwords keyword tool for checking keyword popularity and the tool will give you suggested variations on your chosen keyword.

Another great tool to use to find variations on your keywords is to use Google’s “Wonder Wheel“, now what is this you ask? when you type in a search term on Google you get the results on a web page, on the top left hand corner is a link called “Options”, click on the link and now you have a side bar on the left hand side with a number of options for you to use including one second from the bottom called “Wonder Wheel”.

Click on that and you see the wonder wheel appear in your screen, I’ve included a screen grab below for you which shows a search for Real Estate.

wonder wheel 1 Choosing The Right Keywords For Your Content

Real Estate Wonder Wheel


By clicking on the Wonder Wheel link, I now have a list of real estate companies, if I click on any of the links surrounding the wheel it gives me variations on my search term

wonder wheel Choosing The Right Keywords For Your Content

Googles Wonder Wheel

This little tool is really handy for finding matches to your search term or for finding other keyword variations, the best way to understand it is to play around with it for awhile, so go and have some fun.

 Choosing The Right Keywords For Your Content

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Google Real Estate vs realestate.com.au

29578v7 max 450x450 Google Real Estate vs realestate.com.au

Image via CrunchBase

With the recent addition of real estate to Google maps in Australia a lot of discussion has been generated over its value to the real estate industry.

So far, to my knowledge, of the main portals only myhome and homehound have uploaded listings to Google, although I’m sure that realestate.com.au and domain.com.au internally have been in discussions about the merits of uploading all their listings to Google.

Google will have a full time job controlling the quality of listings available, and making sure that old, outdated or sold stock is removed, just look at the issues that myhome.com.au faced when it first launched in the market with trying to maintain quality with its listings.

During a presentation to one of the major franchises on Tuesday night I was asked my opinion on this very subject and in follow up discussions with a number of people in the industry, this is it seems, more about the potential changing of the guard than anything else.

There is a feeling in the real estate community that Google may just break the monopoly of realestate.com.au.

Well, I thought I’d provide you with a link to an article that Simon Baker, ex CEO of realestate.com.au has written on his blog about this very subject, will it work for Google and what, if any impact will it have on realestate.com.au in the future.

To read the article click here

 Google Real Estate vs realestate.com.au

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