Here Comes That Crazy Plus One Button Again

I knew this was long coming.

They captured the lower front in July and now the army is all set to march on. Starting October, Google will integrate the plus one button over Adsense advertisements and other display ads that are delivered from Google Display ad network.   The +1 button will begin to appear on AdSense for content and AdSense for mobile display ad formats, which includes image, animated gif and Flash ads.

Users will now be able to recommend or endorse advertisements to their social connections and Google is confident regarding the fact that this move will help both users and website owners.

Here is how the display advertisements will house the plus one button and people recommendations at the bottom:


Mr X, Miss Y and 200 other people have plus one’d this ad. So there must be something in here or why would they recommend this to YOU. Enough said!

Google says that plus one activity on advertisements is a really strong signal towards it’s relevancy. If John finds a particular ad very useful and he hits the Plus one button, John’s friends will see the recommendation on other websites and Google search results, provided they are searching for something similar.

But I am concerned over something else how will users use the plus one button on advertisements? Let’s take the example of a generaluser.

The user searches for cheap shoesand goes to a website from Google search results. He likes the content of the page but is attracted by the headline of an Adsense ad, placed above the fold. He clicks the ad and goes to the advertiser’s website. There he finds some more deals, signs up for an account, browses their store and performs other meaningful actions.

Now how is he going to plus one that ad which he thinks is very useful and his friends would love using it?

  • Is he going to remember the URL and landing page for the ad?
  • Is he going to hit the back button over and over again, come back to the publisher’s site and hit the plus one button?
  • Is he going to use the same search query again, go to the publishers website from search result page, find the ad and then plus one it?

The short answer to all of the above questions is NO. Web users have a short attention span, remember?

The other side of the coin is when people click the plus one button before clicking the advertisement. This defeats the sole purpose of the plus one button because if a user didn’t clicked the ad in the first place, how on earth can he recommend the target site to his friends? Of course, he can but then its useless for what it is intended for.

I am not sure how useful the user and advertiser experience will be after the plus one layer is spread over ads. In my opinion, this plus one thing has gone too far and it’s more like Attract the eyeballs.

The Ad Auction

The number of plus ones on a given advertisement will of course have an impact on the ad auction. If a given number of users hit the plus one button on an ad that’s served from Google display network, the same ad will have a higher chance of appearing on search result pages and other websites. This is true only when the host user is searching for something very similar and all the targeting conditions of the advertiser is met.

Result – some advertisers might experience a higher click through rate for specific keywords, which directly affects the ad auctions.

Google says

All eligible ads will continue to compete in the ad auction, and we’ll continue to show the ones that will generate the most revenue for you. +1 button clicks are not counted as clicks on ads. Although you won’t receive any revenue for +1 button clicks, +1’s will help AdSense to deliver more useful ads to your users, which we think will result in higher returns over time.

Opt Out Of Plus One Features And Social Annotations On Your Website

Thankfully, the social annotations feature is not forced and webmasters who would prefer not to use them over their Adsense ads, can completely opt out from ad annotations. Here are the steps:

1. Login to your Google Adsense account, switch to the new Adsense interface and click the Allow & block adstab.

2. Click Advanced settingson the left sidebar and choose Blockunder Social Ads Preference


From the webmasters perspective, I would rather choose Allowover Block. This is obvious I would first smell the water and check how the plus one activity affects my click through rate / revenue and then decide whether I should use the social annotations feature of Google Plus one button over Adsense ads used on my website.

If you are a Google Adsense publisher, my advice would be to first test and track both the scenarios and then arrive at a decision.

Remember – whenever your website makes money, Google makes money too. On top of that, they are testing these things on YOUR advertising space!


Samsung to Open Source Bada

Samsung, one of the largest Android device manufacturers, launched its own smartphone platform – Bada – in 2009. It was a huge hit in Korea, with the Samsung Wave selling millions of units there. However, it was completely overshadowed by the success of the Samsung Galaxy S, its flagship Android device.

Samsung has launched a few more Bada devices since then, and they have all seen moderate success. However, Samsung’s Android devices have been hogging all the limelight. It is now the top Android smartphone manufacturer and with good reason. Its last two major releases – the Galaxy S and Galaxy S 2 – have been the best Android phones of their times.

When Samsung launched Bada, many analysts questioned its move of launching yet another operating system when there were so many already. However, when Google acquired Motorola, it became clear that Samsung was right in hedging its bets on the Android platform with investments in other platforms like Bada and Windows Phone 7.

According to a report by the WSJ, Samsung plans to open source the Bada OS, and make it available to everyone. Android started the “open” trend, and even Nokia open sourced Symbian last year.

Samsung hopes that open sourcing Bada will help turn its fortunes and make it a popular alternative to Android and Windows Phone 7, but that strategy didn’t help Nokia much. Bada still doesn’t have as much developer support as Android, iOS or even Windows Phone 7. I doubt this move will have much of an impact on the prospects of Bada.

Finally: Google Wants Your Help To Identify Scraper Sites And Further Improve Their Algorithm

Scraper sites outranking the source in search results is not a new story.

panda-farmerThis has been one of the biggest problems of Google search, and it appears that no algorithmic update has been able to filter it out yet.

Meanwhile, Panda arrived.

If a site has a high volume of low quality content, lets hammer down the entire tree in one stroke. It’s time to move on to the domain levelinstead of page level- unique theory of Google’s infamous panda algorithmic update.

Honestly, I am not very sure how effective Panda is but without any doubt, I can conclude that this animal is color blind and sees things only in Black and White. Why the hell then scrapers are outranking my page for the content I have written? Okay, I agree that my site may be low quality but then again, this scraper site is a piece of junk and it should NEVER BE RANKED for Christ’s sake.

Before moving on, you may want to take a peek at the following   video where I have showed how scraper sites can beat authority sites who have good backlinks, social mentions, brand awareness and everything else.

I know.

This doesn’t make any sense at all but this is the way it has always been. Panda made things worse! (the wearer knows where the shoe pinches).

Here is another typical scenario when a number of spam sites are outranking a blog post of Matt Cutts, the guy who leads the web spam team at Google.

Algorithmic Changes For Detecting Scraper Sites

Until now, no special attention was given to detect scrapers and imposters who blindly rip off content from RSS feeds. There is only one universal algorithm, which does not make exceptions and it would continue to work on its own, for every other website on earth. This includes scrapers, imposters and blogs running on auto-pilot.

But things are soon going to change.

Matt Cutts just tweeted about a form where Google is requesting webmasters to help Google with the data about scraper sites. The form reads:

Google is testing algorithmic changes for scraper sites (especially blog scrapers). We are asking for examples, and may use data you submit to test and improve our algorithms


This is not to be confused with the webspam report in Google webmaster tools and the public DMCA form for copyright infringement. The data you submit will be used for testing purposes and the observations will be used to improve Google’s algorithm going forward.

Long story short: Google wants to find a pattern that can uniquely identify scraper sites. Millions of websites are born every single day   and it is impossible to scale the web at every instance of time. There should be a formula which will automatically detect scrapers and keep them at bay.


And to devise this algorithmic improvement, Google engineers need data. The more data and real examples they have, the more precisely they can improve their algorithm.

Does that mean Panda is in a way incompetent? A scraper site is a low quality one and it has been 6 months since Panda was released from her cage. If Panda worked the way they thought it would, everything would have been fine by now.

Why Google engineers are requesting data from webmasters around the globe?

Why now?

Refinement? Further improvements? Revisions? Iterations? Trial and error? You name it.

I am just wondering how the web is going to explode, if this new update falls flat on face. The way Panda did, and changed the fate of thousands of webmasters.


Android Malware Trend Continues, GingerMaster Targeting Gingerbread

The first piece of malware for Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ has been spotted. Working alongside  NetQin  –  a mobile security firm, security researcher  Xuxian Jiang  has located and detailed the inner workings of GingerMaster, the first piece of malware that attacks Android Gingerbread.

Using Gingerbreak, which is the  the latest exploit for gaining root access to Gingerbread, the malware gathers information about the infected device and sends it to a remote server. In addition to exfiltrating the IMEI, phone number and SIM serial, GingerMaster creates a backdoor root shell, stored in the system partition in an attempt to survive after software upgrades, to allow for an attacker to access the device at will.

The malware also acts as a trojan horse. Registering on a remote server, the application will sit and wait for instructions on a ‘command and control’ channel. This allows for an attacker to remotely trigger events, such as downloading and installing more malware without the user knowing or reading personal information saved on the phone.

With more and more malware for Android popping up, looking to mobile security software  as a means to protect your device is a good choice, but using more common sense with downloading applications from official stores and understanding the risks of giving permissions to apps, is a better way to protect yourself from these threats. While both Google and Apple are looking for ways to implement a “kill switch” for unauthorized devices or applications, this is a reactive measure to an inherent problem with all security implementations – they rely on the user.

Google Related Is Your New Browsing Assistant, But She Works Only In Google Chrome And Internet Explorer

Google has just unveiled Google Related – a new tool which lets you discover useful and interesting content while you browse the web. Right after they killed Google Toolbar for Firefox 5 and future versions, this new feature is exclusive to Google Chrome and Internet Explorer only.

Here is how Google related works from your browser.

When you visit a website, Google related scans the content of the current page and offers contextually related content in the Google related toolbar. A thin bar will appear at the bottom of the browser, suggesting news, images, YouTube videos, blogs and other useful content that Google thinks might interest you. These suggestions are real time in nature and they will change when you navigate from one page to another page.

For example: If you are reading a page on Wikipedia, Google related will show you videos, photos from Google image search and   webpages which has similar content. You can watch the videos without having to leave the page so this feature acts more like an assistant, which algorithmically predicts the type of content which might interest you and shows the same at the bottom of the page.


Oh and you also need to grab the Google related extension for Chrome or get Google toolbar for Internet Explorer, either one is mandatory for the service to work.

Google has been increasingly focusing on user satisfaction these days. Google Instant pages, Instant previews, Google Plus, algorithmic improvements in search everything is part of Google’s strategy to improve the overall user experience of users. After refining the improvements at the searchlevel, I guess Google wants to bring the same experience at the browser level. The by-products are already here Google Instant pages, which speeds up web browsing and Google related, which offers contextual content relevant to the page you are viewing.

Google has all the data about the pages you are visiting from Google Chrome. Coupled with Google related, Chrome Data and your Google Plus stream data, they can easily figure out which pages satisfy you the most and which sites you visit frequently. It won’t be surprising if Google eventually starts showing updates and posts from your Google Plus stream in the Google related bar. After all, Google is going The Social way’ these days.

Firefox and Opera users are out of luck.

Gmail’s Preview Pane Makes it Look More Like A Desktop Email Client

I am more of a browser person and never felt the need of a desktop email client like Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird. These email clients have so many features but the one I have always liked and envied is the 3 way scrolling pane in Microsoft Outlook. All messages are lined up in one pane while you can preview a specific message in it’s dedicated preview pane. The third pane lets you navigate around your inbox, jump to a label and access other options.

This helps you save time as you don’t have to jump back and forth between messages and recursively refresh your inbox folder. You can quickly preview a message, reply to it and preview another one in fewer clicks.

Some good news for Gmail users, this feature is now available in Gmail labs and after you activate the preview pane Gmail labs feature from Gmail > Settings > Labs, your inbox should look something like this:


Few days back, Google introduced inbox styles which lets you choose a specific style for your Gmail inbox. It’s about time they have realized the frustration of folks like me who have to deal with dozens of email every single day.

With the 3 way pane setup, I am never really out of the inbox and can read and reply to messages directly from the inbox. The selected message open up in a new pane while existing messages from a label are accessible from the middle one. This also helps in better organization and I can refer to the headline and date of an earlier message while I am rushing out on a reply. Sweet!

toggle-panesYou can either choose a vertical pane or a horizontal one cy clicking the small arrow icon at the right top corner of Gmail inbox. I will stick to the vertical pane as it produces an effect close to Windows Live mail  desktop client.

All other Gmail labs features e.g keyboard shortcuts will continue to work in the split view. And this labs feature is not limited to the new Gmail theme by any means.

I must mention that preview pane looks a bit ugly in Firefox 5, with scrollbars and all. At least for me, it is ugly.


Looks like Google’s non verbal communication is going strong with each day Switch to Google Chrome, will you? We have also ditched Google toolbar for Firefox.

Google’s Spam Report Page Gets A Healthy Makeover

For 10 years, Google never bothered to update their webspam report page by either refreshing the design or adding more functionality to it. Meanwhile, the web, changed dramatically.

Following the launch of Google’s recent algorithmic updates, the web search scenario has taken a steep turn. Webmasters and content producers, who earlier never paid attention over scrapers, have grown more serious these days. DMCA complaints, copyright infringement and web spam reports are being filed in bulk because often times, scrapers and imposters beat the original source in search results.

This might be one of the reasons why Google has redesigned their web spam report page, which now contains more clear and concise instructions on how should webmasters proceed with a  web spam  report.

Here is how the new webspam report page of Google looks like:


The web address remains same as earlier, you will need a Google webmaster tools account to file a spam report here –

The new webspam page is neatly categorized into different sections and unlike the older form, now you have separate forms for reporting phishing sites, duplicate content or sites that sell paid links. This will make life easy for newbie webmasters who want to file a spam report in a specific category. The earlier page had all the options mixed up into a single form, which is now replaced with different forms and links to informative tutorials by Google employees.

You might know that Google is very serious regarding PageRank sculpting and according to Google, selling or buying links is a clear violation of webmaster quality guidelines. Hence, Google has added a new option under the paid links category where a webmaster can report which site is selling links and which site is buying them. Here is how the form looks like:

Report Paid links

Spam pages try to get better placement in Google’s search results by using various tricks such as hidden text, doorway pages, cloaking, or sneaky redirects. These techniques attempt to compromise the quality of Google search results and degrade the search experience for everyone.

If you find a particular spammy website ranking ahead of you for your own content, you should go ahead and file an appropriate spam report. The more data and information you pass to Google engineers, the better they will be able to understand the pattern and improve their methods to fight web spam.

Thanks Matt Cutts.

Google Testing A Single Column Search Layout?

Digital Inspiration is reporting that Google is testing a brand new one column layout on search result pages. Both the left and right columns have been dropped while the search options appear between the search box and the search results, as seen in the following screenshot:


Just like the previous design change of Google, there is plenty of whitespace between the results and font sizes have been reduced slightly. Here is another screenshot of regular Google search, notice that the links to view cached copies and instant previews are nowhere to be found:


From the past couple of months, Google has been heavily experimenting with the design and overall look and feel of their search result pages. Prior to the release of Google Plus and the infamous black navigation menu bar, they removed the classic I am feeling luckybutton and added support for author thumbnails next to specific results. Google claims that the series of redesign is part of their strategy to provide more focus to users, so that they can quickly find the content they are looking for.

Some users have reported that this one column search layout of Google is only visible on tablet devices e.g iPad. Its possible that Google wants to test the usability of this layout on tablet devices first and then push a global  roll out  for everyone in coming days.

And not just the layout or columns, there is another report that Google might make the navigation bar sticky. That’s right, the black menu bar will get stuck at the top of the page while search results will be plastered within an infinite scrolling section in the middle. Here is the video:

Google+’s First Screwup: Brand Pages

Google+, which was launched just about 3 weeks back is the fastest growing social network in history. It already has close to 20 million users and has received great reviews across the blogosphere. Now, while it has been welcoming users with open arms (yep, it’s not really exclusive anymore), it had made it clear early on that it won’t be allowing brand pages on the portal yet. It even put up a form where you could apply to get admitted into an early trial and set up a brand page for your company on Google+.

However, many blogs and companies (like Mashable) just created their brand pages on Google+ anyway, while some (like Techcrunch) didn’t. Google didn’t delete the brand pages which had been created, leaving everyone confused about whether or not they should put up a brand page for their company.

Well, yesterday, Google started taking down all the brand pages it could find. It momentarily banned Mashable’s account too, which by then had more than 100,000 followers. Apparently this made the guys at Techcrunch, who played by the rules, quite happy. But then, the Mashable account as restored when Pete Cashmore changed it to its personal account, and pulled a few strings to get it back up.

Now, Google+ has been driving a lot of traffic lately, with millions of users eager to share stuff, which is what drove the guys at Techcrunch mad with envy, and led them to create a fake account on Google+ – Techathew Cruncherin… which lasted all of 2 seconds, before Google banned it. Now I doubt that they ever thought that it would work, but they definitely thought that their stunt would compel Google to ban all fake brand pages, like Mashable’s. But apparently, it didn’t.

Now despite the tone of this article, I’m with Techcrunch on this one. However, I just don’t give enough of a shit about whether or not we should have a brand page at Google+, though it does seem to drive a lot of traffic.

Google, please clean your act up, and make the same rules apply to everyone.

Also, here’s a great post by Danny Sullivan, which sums up the whole shitfest.

Reverse Engineering Google’s Panda Slap, Hubpages Seeing Improvements After Offloading Content To Subdomains

It has been over four months since Google’s famous Panda algorithmic update, also known as Farmer update went live globally. This Panda update is one of the most devastating algorithmic changes ever, crippling site traffic of thousands of sites in a flash. There are so many forum threads where webmasters   have said that their site has just disappeared from Google search. Publishing platforms, article directories, content sites, blogs, forums or any other web property which has a lot of content were most affected by this algorithmic change.

Why this new algorithm? Because Google has been under attack from content farms and spam aggregators and they had to do something about it.

To this day, most of the webmasters have no idea what is the exact problem which led to the penalization of their site(s). Here are some case scenarios:

  • Is it just the content on the site which is considered thin and shallow in nature?
  • Or the incoming links have lost their weight post panda?   Because the sites linking to you have lost their value (assumption).
  • Were the pages been knocked off because of competition?
  • Duplicate content or canonical issues within the source code?
  • Scraper sites outranking the source for the content they have written?
  • Too many advertisements on the site   or the Ad to content ratio is way above the line.
  • A large volume of user generated content which was hastily produced and don’t serve any value.

Many possibilities.

Since no one has yet recovered from Google’s Panda slap, it makes sense to conclude it’s not just one factor.