On Monday, Microsoft announced that they would be releasing two new versions of the tablets that they launched only a year ago – the Surface 2, which runs Windows RT, and the Surface Pro 2, which runs Windows 8.1. Whilst they have fixed nearly every hardware issue that users criticized with the first versions, the company still faces the issue of getting consumers to see the tablets differently.
One of the main drawbacks of the Surface Pro was that it was expensive; whilst the second version is still pretty pricey, it does have a much better battery life and can run Outlook. And, whilst the Windows app store is still missing a number of vital applications, the number of apps available has gone from 10,000 to 100,000 in only a year.
Then there’s Windows RT, which is the first version of the operating system that runs on low-power chips that are normally used for mobile phones. Whilst this was a great way for Microsoft to address the mobile market (in which they have previously struggled) and it has allowed for thinner and lighter tablet designs, it’s still not compatible with many older applications.
The biggest problem for Microsoft, however, will be getting consumers to see the new tablets as something they would like to buy. “We’re focusing on explaining the difference a little bit more,” said Julie Larson-Green, “there are two kinds of people – the ones that don’t want the complexity of a full PC and people who really need a full PC. We’ll talk more in those two dimensions.”
Image Source: smh
On the 17th of September, Microsoft announced that they would be rolling out a range of new features for their search engine, Bing – some of these features will be cosmetic and some will be structural. Microsoft says that the purpose of these changes is to deliver information more quickly and in more helpful ways. They are trying to make Bing more than just a search engine.
The new Snapshot section will actually combine Bing’s old Snapshot bar with the Social Sidebar, resulting in a more prominent right column. The new Snapshot section is wider than the old one (it’s almost half the page width) and is shaded to separate it from the main results.
- Page Zero
This is the name given to deep links that provide shortcuts to common information objectives. Essentially, the idea is to enable the quick discovery of information. It can be operated from the homepage and from the search results equally.
- Pole Position
This is an answer that Bing will prominently display when it is confident in regards to the user’s intent. “When we know that someone wants images of a celebrity…we now provide a much larger answer beautifully integrated with the top of the page” Microsoft said.
The whole design of Bing has changed so that results will display slightly differently across all screens. “Our new layout…will adjust both to the size of the screen and the context of the user so we present the right experience at the right time” Microsoft said.
In a statement released by Microsoft, they said that all of these changes are part of the evolution of Bing and their way of further including them within the larger family of Microsoft products. They also announced that they would be rolling out these changes over the next few days, although it is uncertain whether they will be available to all users immediately.
2013 has seen Google make some dramatic changes and the Penguin update that occurred on May 22nd had the biggest impact on small business websites. Whilst this led to some severe drops in traffic, some webmasters have been reporting some traffic increases during August. It is believed that this is a result of a Panda softening from Google.
This impact has led many webmasters to change the ways that they tackle SEO for their small businesses. Because they have very little funds to spare for spending on optimisation services, they are often reluctant to increase their budgets. But here are 4 reasons why this is exactly what you should do:
1. Google Wants You To
Even though many people will simply dismiss this as PR, Google has clearly stated that the SEO tactics that used to work in 2008 are no longer tolerated. This includes article spinning, keyword stuffing, paid links, thin content and duplicate content.
2. Recovering From Updates Is Expensive
Whilst there are plenty of websites that have recovered from the Penguin updates, it is important to remember that each case is different. All of the tactics that can be used to help recovery (such as technical, onsite and offsite issues) are expensive to undertake.
3. SEO Has Merged With Marketing
By now it should be clear that SEO is no longer a technical exercise and that it is rapidly merging with marketing and public relations. It seems that many small businesses, however, are frequently failing to harness groundbreaking SEO opportunities.
4. ROI Is High In SEO
According to recent data, SEO is still a great investment. This suggests that small businesses shouldn’t be shopping for the cheapest SEO vendor but that they should be considering their return on investment (ROI) if they were to spend more.
At the end of the day, it is important to recognise that all technologies and industries mature, and that price-points will typically change along the way. SEO is no different. If you take anything away from the above 4 points, it should be that spending more on optimisation now will benefit small business greatly in the long run, both in ROI and authority.
In the latest webmaster help video from Matt Cutts, an engineer who works with Google, the topic of auto-generated content and whether action, in the form of a penalty, is taken against these sorts of websites. “We are absolutely willing to take action against those sites,” Cutt said in the video.
Many years ago, websites that used auto-generated content were known as “Made for AdSense” or “MFA” sites. This is because they were created in the hope that people would land on the page, not find what they were looking for and click on one of the many AdSense advertisements to leave the page rather than hitting the back button.
The content for these websites is automatically generated with a script that takes snippets of search results or web pages including those keywords. Think about those times you’ve searched for reviews on a television you want to buy, for example, and you think you’ve found a link only to click on it and see “0 reviews found for Sony televisions”.
“We have rules in our guidelines about auto-generated pages that have very little value,” Cutts said. This is because, according to Google, landing on a page that doesn’t give you what you’re looking for results in a bad user experience. Cutts also pointed out that webmasters can avoid being penalised by ensuring that search result snippets aren’t being indexed.
So, what’s the bottom line? If you’re a webmaster who is creating websites with auto-generated text and snippets, understand that Google can (and probably will) penalise you. And if you’re a user who comes across these sorts of sites in Google results, know that you can send in a spam report.
In early August, the team at GlobalWebIndex released the 10 most frequently used apps regularly utilised by the 969.49 million smartphone users around the world. Whilst some of the contenders may surprise you, it goes without saying that the top 10 are dominated by communication and social media apps. To compile the list, GlobalWebIndex has looked at the apps that people with smartphones have used in the past month.
- Google Maps – 54%
- Facebook – 44%
- YouTube – 35%
- Google+ – 30%
- Weixin/WeChat – 27%
- Twitter – 22%
- Skype – 22%
- Facebook Messenger – 22%
- WhatsApp – 17%
- Instagram – 11%
Some people are surprised that Twitter and Instagram haven’t ranked higher, whilst others are surprised that Google+ is so widely used. For those of you unfamiliar with some of these apps, Weixin/WeChat is a Chinese chat app that enables users to partake in free texting, voice messages and video calls. WhatsApp is similar in function in that it enables users to create groups, send unlimited free text, video and audio media messages.
Zoe Fox of Mashable says, “If people are not navigating on their phones, the next most popular thing to do is to connect with people.” Some of the other apps that can be found in GlobalWebIndex’s top 20 include Ovi Maps, Shazam, Foursquare and Flickr. Are you surprised at where some of these apps have ranked? Do you regularly use any of them in your daily life? What about apps that you regularly use that have not been mentioned?
Image Source: GlobalWebIndex