My Five #154

A Google-y My Five this week. From killing link networks to bringing Street View to life, it’s been a busy week for the search engine giant

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Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.

This week’s My Five is by Libby.

1. Domain Wars

Earlier this year, a Berkshire-based fancy dress company was made to hand over their web address to Disney, after having used it to sell Star Wars-themed costumes for over 10 years.

In a similar incident, Google was at risk of finding itself in a similar position when an ex-employee purchased for a mere $12.00 – owning the domain for all of a minute.

Sanmay Ved documented his discovery, purchase, and subsequent exchange with Google’s security team. Google offered Ved a reward – or ‘bug bounty’ – for highlighting the flaw, but as he “loves Google to heart”, Ved claimed he wasn’t in it for the money. When he explained he would be donating his reward to to the Art of Living India foundation’s education programme, Google then doubled the amount.

2. For Goodness’ SAPE

There’s rumours a-rumbling that Google has come down on another underground link network this week. Back in March 2013 sites on the SAPE Links network reported penalties within Google, resulting in huge drops in rankings.

Now known as “black hat” SEO, link networks are a (decreasingly) popular but (increasingly) risky way of building a high number of links in a very short space of time. Just send over a list of keywords, and sit back and relax, knowing that you’ll wake up to a jump in the number of links pointing to your site – easy peasy… except linkbuilding is neither easy, nor peasy.

Did Google go after a link network? Or is this merely a sign that the long-awaited Penguin Update is finally arriving?

3. On your marks, (not set), go

A little while ago, Matt told us why the Search Analytics report in Search Console (prev. Webmaster Tools) is nearly awesome. As Matt pointed out, it’s alleged that the data is more accurate than that found in the old Search Queries report, and provided much-lamented insight into the search queries used to visit your website.

Over in Google Analytics, SEOs have been watching our search query data descend into “(not provided)” for some time. It now seems the data in the Search Engine Optimization tab is in jeopardy too:

Search Queries Not Set - My Five - Browser Media

Apparently, this could just be a temporary bug.

4. Google’s SuBo Test

Peter Asbill, Global Streaming Lead at Google Play, recently spoke to The Guardian about the creation of playlists and music streaming. He revealed that when interviewing a prospective member of the ‘Playlist Team’, they’re asked to create a 3.5 hour playlist of around 50 tracks featuring Susan Boyle, that Susan Boyle fans would enjoy.

The job isn’t about teaching people what is and isn’t cool in music (obviously, as SuBo is widely acknowledged as sitting firmly in the ‘not cool’ camp) , it’s about delivering “the perfect music for your context” and catering for all tastes, all moods at all times.

Using human curation and “sophisticated recommendation technology” powered by Google-y algorithms, playlists are delivered to compliment any scenario.

“We all have this belief that music makes every moment better, so we’re obsessed with someone tapping the app, opening it up, and being served the perfect soundtrack” – Peter Asbill

Gotta love the Tea & Drake example… created for that moment when you shared a cuppa with Drake:

Drake pours a cup of Earl Grey for you. You hold the cup close, blow aside the rising steam. “How did it come to this?” He nods. He struggles with the same demons. At least there is this: tea and Drake, a chance to collect yourself before taking on the night.


5. Crafty Street View

Launched last year, Google Cardboard uses a sheet of card, a pair of transparent lenses, an elastic band and some velcro to transform a smartphone into a virtual reality headset. Far cheaper than Facebook’s Oculus Rift!

The device can now be used with iOS and Android as a virtual reality portal into Google Street View, allowing users to explore the world in 360-degrees, without actually leaving their home. Earlier this year, Google teamed up with Mattel to integrate the technologies and so the VR Street View is available through the iconic View-Master.

view master - google cardboard - browser media
… shame it won’t actually look like this!

For only a few dollars, consumers can dip their toe in the water with an inexpensive cardboard holder for a compatible smartphone. We expect this democratisation of the technology to deliver growth not just in affluent, mature markets but also in emerging markets where smartphone penetration is stronger than ever.

– Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight

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