Does Google Take Action Against Auto-Generated Content?

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.

Video Source: Google Webmasters Youtube Channel

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.

GlobalWebIndex Releases The 10 Most Frequently Used Smartphone Apps

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.

  1. Google Maps – 54%
  2. Facebook – 44%
  3. YouTube – 35%
  4. Google+ – 30%
  5. Weixin/WeChat – 27%
  6. Twitter – 22%
  7. Skype – 22%
  8. Facebook Messenger – 22%
  9. WhatsApp – 17%
  10. Instagram – 11%

Top 10 Apps

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

Will Windows 8.1 Be Available To Users In October?

Even though Microsoft is fast closing in on their target of the end of August for releasing to manufacturing Windows 8.1 (a target that has been widely publicised), most people are more interested in when they will be able to get their hands on the final bits. And, so far, Microsoft officials have remained quiet on when exactly this will be.

There have been rumours, however, that Microsoft will hold off on making the final Windows 8.1 bits available until around mid-October. This period will include both the general availability date and the ‘launch’ date (when new hardware running those bits will become available). Microsoft has yet to confirm whether this will be the case.

Windows 8.1

A few months ago, it was revealed by sources close to Microsoft that their overall plan with Windows 8.1 was to shorten the usual gap between RTM and general availability. Even if they wait until mid-October to release the final bits, Microsoft will still have managed to deliver a new Windows release in under a year. There was three years between Windows 7 and 8.

It has also been noted that Microsoft could receive a number of benefits from holding back the RTM bits, such as: more time to stamp out the bugs, more time to deliver fixes for bugs to those with the preview build, and a launch event with more of a bigger bang (many felt that the Windows 8 launch was anti-climactic, as they already had the final bits).

Whilst holding onto the bits will make many people running the Windows 8.1 preview pretty unhappy, it is believed that if Microsoft keep patching and fixing the preview that this annoyance will be lessened.

Image Source: Mashable

Facebook Now Allow Public Posts To Be Embedded

On August 1, Facebook began allowing ‘public’ posts to be embedded on third-party websites. This is a strategy that Twitter originally created in 2010 and one that Instagram recently copied, too. It is believed that this new embedded post function is a result of Facebook trying to embrace the idea of public content, even though its origins lie in private sharing.

Facebook embedded post

Whilst the embedded function has not been implemented across the whole of Facebook as of yet, you are able to see a preview of it on
5 websites – Bleacher Report, CNN, Huffington Post, Mashable and People. Soon, however, it is expected that we will all be able to see the ‘embed’ option in drop-down arrows on newsfeed and timeline posts.

embed this post

And Facebook have revealed that their embedded function will include all the bells and whistles – you will be able to embed posts with text, pictures and video, not to mention like and comment, follow public figures, like pages, and clickable hashtags (which will take you back to Facebook). You will, however, be restricted to public posts only.

Buy why has Facebook decided that their new embedded function is a good idea and the best way forward? Well, one of their basic goals is to increase their footprint on the web and create more in-roads to their website. Basically, they are looking for new and improved ways to draw traffic to the Facebook site, and allowing users to embed posts will help this.

“Let newsmakers embed your content and they’ll look to you for material, likely publish more to you, and you’ll have more content to advertise against,” says Josh Constantine of Tech Crunch. The fact is there’s huge traffic and influence to be had by becoming a source of breaking news and eyewitness accounts. And Facebook is trying to buy into this.

Image Source: Facebook

Chromecast And Nexus 7 Tablet Make It Easier To Enjoy Content Across Devices

Last week, Google announced that they would be launching a couple of new devices in the coming weeks – Chromecast and, in conjunction with ASUS, the Nexus 7. Sundar Pichai, the Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome and Apps at Google says that the launch makes it “even more effortless to enjoy the content you care about…wherever you are, across your devices.”

Introducing Chromecast
This device has been designed to help you bring your online entertainment to the largest screen in your home – the television. It’s a small device that is simply plugged into your high-definition TV and allows you to use your smartphone, tablet or laptop to ‘cast’ online content onto the screen. You will even be able to multitask whilst enjoying what’s on the TV!

Introducing Nexus 7
This device is, essentially, a newer and better version of the original Nexus 7. The 7-inch tablet features 323 pixels, 9 hours of high-definition video playback and 10 hours of web browsing or reading. It’s also incredibly lightweight and has the addition of stereo speakers and virtual surround sound (thanks to Fraunhofer, the guys who invented the MP3 format).

Customers across the United States will be able to purchase Chromecast for the low price of $35 from July 28, whilst US customers will also be able to purchase the brand new Nexus 7 (starting at $229) from July 30; both devices will be released in other countries in the coming months. Google have also announced that a Lite version of the Nexus 7 is coming soon.