Too Much Noise On Your Google Plus Timeline? Practice Ignorance

Ding Dong.

You have 100+ notifications on Google Plus and 569 people have added you to their Google Plus circles.

Mr XYZ has shared a whole bunch of posts with you.

ignoreOvertime, the incoming stream in your Google plus profile might get flooded with updates from people whom you don’t know and neither you have interacted with them earlier, nor you wish to do in near future. Random people keep adding you to their circles for whatever reasons and these notifications just don’t stop. The situation is worse when an unknown person keeps sharing posts with you and your smartphone rings up every other minute “Mr XYZ has shared a post with you.

There are two ways to get over this notification massacre and clean up the incoming timeline on Google Plus – Ignore and Block.

What Happens When you Block Someone on Google Plus

Like every other social site, Google Plus has a blockoption which is equivalent to a DEAD END. Whenever you block someone on Google Plus, the following things happen:

  • They are removed from your circles and extended circles.
  • They won’t be able to see anything you share on your Google Plus profile. If you precisely share a post with a particular person you have blocked earlier, he won’t be able to see it unless you unblock him first and then share the post again.
  • They can’t comment in any of your posts.
  • You won’t see any of their posts in your Google Plus stream.
  • You won’t get notifications of any activity the person may be involved with.
  • You can always unblockthem from your circles page.
  • The person whom you have blocked never gets to know whether you have blocked him or not. Clever!

I don’t want anything to do with this person, ever! If there is a Shift + Delete button on Google Plus, I would probably hit that

If this is your reaction, you should use blockinstead of ignore. You can block specific users from your Google Plus timeline or from your circles page, as shown in the following example screenshots:

block-users-google-plus

block-users-google-plus1

What Happens When You Ignore Someone On Google Plus

Ignoring someone on Google Plus is considered a little liberal. Its similar to a semi opaque glass window where people can see you from the other side but you don’t see them from yours. When you ignore someone on Google Plus, the following things happen:

  • You won’t see any of their posts in the incoming stream
  • You won’t get notifications about their activities
  • You won’t see them on your circles page.
  • You can clear the ignoredlist from your circles page.
  • Similar to the Blockoption, people whom you ignore will never get the notification that you have ignored them.

All right, you guys can read my posts and updates but I am just not interested in your activities..   Put on your black goggles by hitting ignorein the notification drop-down or from the incomingstream, as shown below:

ignore-google-plus-users

The Ignore’ option is similar to Twitter’s followmodel where anyone can follow your updates but you don’t necessarily follow theirs.

Instead of using Block, I would prefer using the ignoreoption to clean up my Google Plus incoming timeline from junk updates. As long as you are not sharing very very personal updates publicly, you should choose ignoreover blockbecause the former keeps your fans while the latter shuts the door on their face.

The following video clearly  explains  the differences between “ignore” and “block” in Google Plus:

Google Plus Adds “Verified Accounts”

There have been a lot of issues and debate over the last month about Google’s real namepolicy for their social network, Google Plus. Accounts that had pseudo names and nicknames were taken down immediately from the network. Google’s strict name policystates that users are prohibited from using nicknames and should enter their real name while creating an account.

Despite the naming rules, there are several aficionados who are creating fake profiles of celebrities and public figures, which make it difficult to understand who the real one is. Recently we saw an increasing number of accounts using the name of Paris Hilton. To overcome this problem, Google had announced that they will start verifying accounts of its users on its social network, and probably delete the fake profiles.

Wen-Ai Yu, an employee at Google, announced  on her Google Plus profile along with a YouTube video stating that the social network has started the verification process by providing a verified namebadge to all celebrities and public figures.

When you visit a user’s profile and notice a check mark next to their name, it indicates that the user’s account is verified, and when you mouse over the check mark, it says verified name.

Google Plus Verified Account

However, the verification process is not applicable to everyone. Wen-Ai Yu states that Google is focused on verifying public figures, celebrities, and people who have been added to a large number of circles. They are taking things slowly and are working on expanding this to include more people in the future.

You might be wondering how to verify your own name on Google+. For now, we’re focused on verifying public figures, celebrities, and people who have been added to a large number of Circles…but keep in mind that this is just the beginning. We’re working on expanding this to include more people in the future, so hang tight!

Below is a video from  Wen-Ai Yu, explaining the new Verified Accounts feature.

Is Facebook Blocking Google Plus Invite Links?

Facebook is irked about the growth of Google Plus. Google Plus now has over 25 million users, and ever since it was launched, it has had a tremendous growth. Despite that Google Plus is in field test and new registrations to the site can be done via “invite only“, and the fact being that Google had to shut down the invite system because of high demand, it somehow still managed to achieve enormous popularity.

Now that Google allows its Plus users to invite (more people) their friends to experience the new social network, its rival Facebook, seems to be overwhelmed. Of course, currently the best way to interact with friends on the Internet is via Facebook, and thus users are making use of this means by sharing Google Plus invite links on their walls. Users are not just getting themselves a Plus account, but are also attracted to the new social network and slowly migrating from Facebook.

Facebook appears to be piqued about this and is reported to be blocking Google Plus invites from the users’ Facebook news feed. This came into light when the Senior Vice President of social business, Vic Gundotra posted a video on YouTube demonstrating that Google+ invites that have been shared on Facebook did not show up in the news feed of other Facebook users.

The video was posted after which the company had gotten reports of this unusual behavior. “I wonder how widespread this problem is?” Gundotra asked.

In response to Vic Gundotra’s statement, Facebook (obviously) has denied the fact that it is stopping users from sharing the Google Plus invite URL. Facebook noted that they have a display-filtering technology that help prevent spam and thus could exclude certain links from re-appearing on a user’s news feed if it had previously been posted several times.

“Newsfeed is an automated system that is designed to deliver the most relevant content to you and your friends. The technology evaluates hundreds of factors, including your relationship to the poster, the type of content, the click-through rate (where appropriate), and people hiding similar posts from their feed.

In real time, it decides what to display to you and what to filter for both Top News and Most Recent. It also includes systems that attempt to identify and block spam. Links have a history of the most abuse and are given the most scrutiny. As a result of all of these factors, a given link may be shown or filtered to people differently at different times.”

Facebook, are you sure that you truly attemptto identifyand blockspam messages? Well, there are several scams that are out there on Facebook, and practically a new one is born every day. As a matter of fact, scams that were reported months back are still spreading on Facebook.

Nevertheless, after watching the video, I tried the same by sharing a Google Plus invite on Facebook and simultaneously checking with another account if it had updated or not? The results? Well, it successfully posted the invite link in the news feed of the other account.

Google Plus Invite on Facebook

Now the question is whether Google tried to drive attention towards its social network by creating this gimmick or did Facebook really block the invite link? Vic Gundotra, edited his original post and added – they appear to have stopped on Friday

Get Ready For Some Farmville And Angry Birds Action In Google Plus

One and half months from the launch date and Google Plus is in full swing, measuring its next logical step: Games.

If you go back in time and recall what made Facebook so popular among teenagers and college students, you can do the math. Of course, Google won’t do the same mistake over and over again, this time they are quick enough to add support for games in Google Plus., borrowing a little help from the same old player Zynga.

Starting today, games in Google Plus will be rolled out gradually to all users, you can check your Google Plus profile for a fifth tab at the far right, as shown below:

google-plus-games

Using the Games tab at your Google plus profile, you will be able to quickly filter gaming related updates from friends in your Google Plus circles. This is a direct counter to Facebook’s news feed system, which often gets cluttered and bombarded with tons of gaming and application updates. Google will provide a dedicated page for all things gaming, which is cool.

At this moment, Google Plus will launch 16 games which includes Angry birds, Dragon of Atlantis, Diamond dash, Edgeworld, Zombie lane and some more. I hope they won’t disappoint Farmville and Cityville fans.

Introducing Games in Google Plus is a giant step towards attracting the mass. Google did an amazing job in attracting the geeks and the tech savvy audience but if they want the crowd to chase the heck out of them, there is only one way – satisfy their basic needs. Social networking in 2011 has gone beyond one-on-one conversations, you have to have the entire mix in a well packaged format. Google knows that.

Some good news for game developers – Google will take only 5% on in-app purchases and transactions which is 1/6th of what Facebook charges game developers at this moment. This is a really big deal and Google is going aggressive to attract developers in the playground as well.   Google says that this is just a promotional rate while a revised rate will be put into effect later.

I wont be playing but for those who will, games in Google Plus is going to be real fun.

Aggressive growth can only be achieved through Inorganic growth

Today I logged in to Google Plus again only to find half of my Indian acquaintances having stopped using Google Plus. I wonder what took them this long. I stopped the very next day I ‘got in’.

 

google_plus

I was more annoyed that my funny, smart twitterers with wicked sense of humor were just pretentious on twitter and all smart and boring on Google Plus. Why? Because Robert Scoble and other have started using Google Plus at their blog and highly interactive commenter.   Anyhow, I guess it got annoying and boring for them as well eventually that they stopped plus-ing (?). Google recently announced that they have crossed 25 million users on Google Plus. That’s quite an achievement on its own. Facebook took 3 whole years to achieve that mark. Although it’s unjust to compare Facebook and Google Plus as Google is widely known brand.

The point is,   none of my Indian acquaintances are active on Google Plus. When Google Plus crossed 20 million users last week, according to comScore, 2.85 million users were from India making India the second largest country to use Google Plus. So is it true that aggressive growth can only be achieved through inorganic growth? Why are my Indian friends finding it difficult to get used to Google Plus?

First, Circles is a new concept and if users do not add the right kind of people in their circle the social network gets extremely boring. I recently came across a site (Recommendedusers.com) that has grouped people in accordance to what they update. People are categorized into Artists and designers, Podcasters, Bloggers, Women in Tech and so on. Once you populate your circles even Google Plus can be fun.

Exporting Your Social Graph (Google+ vs Facebook)

As we reported earlier today, Facebook has made some changes to the Account Settings dashboard. The option to export (or backup) your profile is now in the center of the screen making it more visible. While going through the dashboard, I decided to give the export option a try.

Clicking on the Export account option will initiate the backup which once completed will be available to download. (An email notification will be sent.) The size of the backup generated in my case was 130MB, not surprising given the number of images I’ve uploaded since 2007. The Facebook backup is essentially an offline version of your profile. It has all your Messages, Notes, Wall posts, Pictures, Videos, Friend list and even the events. All of this information is presented as an offline HTML website, screenshot:

facebook-export

(You can export your Facebook Profile from the “Download a copy” link in your Account Settings.)

The archive has 3 folders, with your albums in their own sub folders. Launching the index.html file one can browse through his profile. I came across my first wall post that dates back to April 2007!

Google has been making a lot of noise about your data being your datawith Google+ so I decided to test the option. My Google+ profile is a meager 3MB. (I am not a Picasa user.) However, Google+ creates .vcf files of your circles. The .vcf file can be imported into Outlook, Gmail or any contact management application. This is much better than the static friend list prepared by Facebook. Besides this, the backup option is Google+ isn’t nearly half as good as the one from Facebook. Here’s a screenshot of Google+ backup folder:

google  export

The folder segregation is pretty good but inside plus_one is a HTML file of the links you +1-ed. The Buzz and Stream folders have several HTML files of the links and posts you shared. This representation is pretty useless offline. The Google+ backup does not create an offline HTML version of your profile. And here’s where I realized Facebook is much better.

(To get a backup of your Google+ profile, head over to Google Takeout.)

Simple Presentation on Getting Started with Google+

It’s exactly one month since Google Plus was introduced on a field trial basis. Until today, 10 million users have joined Google Plus and many users are signing up every day, which proves that Google Plus is here to stay.

Google Plus looks pretty similar to other social sites such as Facebook or Twitter but have some unique features and better privacy settings. There are no walls in Plus and neither there is a separate inbox folder where you can send or receive private messages. Communicating with Google Plus friends is a completely new experience so before you sign up for Google Plus, we suggest you to read our step by step guides: Google Plus for dummies and getting started with Google Plus

As I said, Google Plus has introduced a completely new way to sort friends and contacts into different groups called Circles. A single person can be present in one or more circles and you can customize the visibility of a post by sharing it with specific circles of your choice. For the past couple of weeks, I have heard a lot of questions from my non-geeky friends about the different features of Google Plus and how to get the hang of it.

What is this circle thing in Google Plus and why do I need to create one? I would share everything with everyone, that’s how it works right?

How do I write something on my friends profile? Today is her birthday but I can’t find a way to write a message on her wall, poke her or throw her a virtual birthday gift.

I am sure newbies have a lot of similar questions, which should be answered by this presentation that follows.

The Google Plus Experience Explained through Photos

One Google Plus user has created an awesome presentation, explaining the basic concepts of Google Plus using Photos. The presentation contains 49 photos, arranged sequentially to give you a basic run down of how things work in Google Plus.

google-plus-presentation

Here is the link of the photo album – http://goo.gl/NSkz5 (clicking the first photo will start   the slideshow in full screen mode). Once you have started the slideshow, use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard to browse through the presentation.

So if you have a friend who keeps asking you about Google Plus, circles and hangouts, ask him to see this presentation and get his doubts cleared. We thought it would be a nice idea to create a video screencast of the above presentation. The video is embedded below:

Name-Tagging People Exposes Picasa Web Albums on Google+

Google+ recently caused privacy concerns with its unique idea of tagging and sharing. Name-tagging people in a Picasa Web Albums exposes the entire album to the public in Google+ quite badly. Once you name-tag someone in a Picasa Web Album, your entire album becomes publicly visible to people tagged in the album. Not only this, people can also reshare all other photographs from those albums in which they are tagged.

In its Picasa help document, Google claims “Tagging is sharing”. Since when is that? Well, that is since Google+ came to be.
picasa-logo
Google has recently taken interest in this problem. Their reply at the help forum says,

The Google+ project is currently in Field Trial and we’re making rapid iterations on feedback we’ve received. We’re aware of the requests for more control over who can share albums and we’re working to address this.

That does not give an assurance for a fix but it echoes the fact that Google+ is open for change at the moment. Google+ has also listed a few dubious  suggestions like deleting your Picasa Web album or downgrading to move out of Google Plus. Either way, the solution to a problem cannot be another bigger problem, which is exactly what is being suggested here.

Google+ has a nice networking site going on. People love the concept of circles. They appreciate huddles and are intrigued by how simple, yet how elegant the entire Google+ system is. Fresh out of the incubator and that too half-baked, Google+ needs some more honing before it can go mainstream. Bugs keep springing up every now and then. However, bugs with a privacy concerns edge are dangerous. They attract a lot of negative press.

Google should work fast to resolve this issue and nip it in the bud. The issues can be seen on the Google Picasa Support forum at  this link.

Google Plus One Votes Being Sold By SEO Firms And Social Media Shops, Should You Buy Them?

Google’s +1 service helps people discover relevant content.

It can be a website, a photo, an advertisement or a video, content that gets plus one’d from people present in your social circles are showcased on top of search results. This is Google’s attempt to offer personalized content on search result pages, so that users can find content based on their social recommendations.

The game of search has changed. And changed for good.

No longer can any particular site dominate the search results by buying tons of links, the playing field has been leveled by human engagement. Social signals are a strong factor now.

The way Google search is evolving, web marketers are increasingly focusing on engaging people and drifting away from classical link marketing. Does that mean SEO firms have to close shop and find alternative ways to foster their business?

Apparently, no. Instead, they have now found a new way to game clients Buy social signals for $249, Cheap google Plus one votesand 50 Google Plus onesare new one-liners.

How Some SEO Firms Are Selling Google +1 Votes

Just a simple Google search for buy Google Plus onesand you will end up finding quite a good number of sources selling Google Plus ones.

buy-google-plus-ones

Plussem.com and googleplus1supply.com are the two sites who are selling Google Plus ones in exchange of hard cash, I am sure more social media shops will join them in coming days. Their pitch is simple, buy Google plus one votes from real people (or spammers) and see the impact of these plus ones on your ranking.

buying-plus-ones1

Here is a quote from plussem.com which sounds lucrative

Buying Plus Ones can help your site stand out by showing Google that the content featured on it or the page being Plussed is of value to real people and not spammy. Similar to Facebook’s LIKE, the Twitter FOLLOW or Digg’s DIGG it adds a human aspect to the ranking algorithm used by search engines and social bookmarking sites

buying-plus-onesNot getting enough plus one’s on your sales page? These services claim that all their plus ones come from human computers, no bots are used. Core principles are listed below:

  1. All +1′s come from people with a Google account that has been verified by phone (Phone Verified Accounts)
  2. All +1′s come from real people. No bots are being used!
  3. All +1′s are being given by manually going to your website and clicking the +1 button
  4. It’s untraceable because the +1′s are being given from different IP’s
  5. All +1′s are given dripped over a couple of days so it looks natural

Sounds good? Let me tell you, this is CRAP!

Why Buying Google Plus One’s Might not Help But Hurt

This concept is not new, we have seen retweet clubs, 3 way Facebook fan pages and Digg groups created solely for the purpose of pushing each others content on social sites and search engines.

You tweet each and every link from my blog and I will do the same for you

You give me 500 Diggs from your network and I will give you 500 in return. Hence, both of us will end up having 1000 Diggs and we will be at the first page

These forced social sharing concept is nothing but a fallacy. Its just a fancy name of spamming, if you are doing this to your followers – I beg of you STOP IT.

And neither they help you get higher ranks for your content. It’s a myth and you should understand a few things before trying to game a search engine:

1. Search engines work universally for everyone.   If someone doesn’t have a Google account, will he see completely different results for a given search query? No.

2. Google Plus ones, retweets, Facebook likes are strong social signals but they help only on the social recommendation level. Getting a thousand plus one’s on any given page will not push your content for everyone.

Example: If I am connected to John on Twitter and John plus one’s a page about WordPress, there is a chance that I will see John’s link on Google; the next time I search for something related to WordPress.

Now if that page receives 500 Plus ones from different users, will it get a permanent spot on Google search results for a given search query? No.

So what is the point of buying Google Plus ones, retweets or Facebook likes? The spammers who are voting your content for money are not present in the social circle of everyone.

And here is why this behavior might hurt rather than helping you.

Google can precisely detect the user engagement of a given page, over a given period of time. How much time do visitors spend on your page, what other pages they are reading, where are they coming from,   search queries and everything.

Take it from me – its impossible to manipulate or compensate for   the organically generated data, you can’t do it with 10,000 spammers working for you on a given page over a course of 1 year.

Instead, Google can detect spammy behavior and whether a site owner is engaging in over optimization techniques.

Some examples:

1. This site was nothing the other day and suddenly, we have 40,000 pages in the index.
2. This is an ecommerce site and for the past couple of months, all their backlinks have the exact same anchor text.
3. The people who have +1’d pages on this site have also +1’d thousands of pages on other sites. Interestingly, these pages do not match and they have nothing in common.

A high school drop out can do the math from the above equations, forget complex search algorithms.

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.