Thursday, 31 May 2012

Google offers search tips to help Chinese avoid disconnection

12:51 Posted by: Sohel Parvez 0 comments

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Google will now offer Chinese users alternatives for search terms that it has determined are likely to result in disconnection.
(Credit: Screenshot by CNET)
Chinese Internet users have long grappled with frequent disconnections and service interruptions -- often immediately after doing a Google query, and today, the search giant has come up with some workarounds that could help.

"Over the past couple years, we've had a lot of feedback that Google Search from mainland China can be inconsistent and unreliable," Google wrote in a blog post today. "It depends on the search query and browser, but users are regularly getting error messages like 'This webpage is not available' or 'The connection was reset.' And when that happens, people typically cannot use Google again for a minute or more."

Now, Google said it has determined that its own systems are not the cause of the problem. At the same time, it said it analyzed 350,000 popular keywords and discovered some that are prone to cause problems (see video below). And in a bid to help Chinese users avoid the temporary disconnections, the company said it will begin offering warnings when a query is likely to cause a problem, as well as suggestions of alternate search terms that are less likely to do so.

"Starting today we'll notify users in mainland China when they enter a keyword that may cause connection issues," Google wrote. "By prompting people to revise their queries, we hope to reduce these disruptions and improve our user experience from mainland China. Of course, if users want to press ahead with their original queries they can carry on."

Interestingly, in a country whose government is well known for censoring certain use of the Internet, it seems that the keywords that result in service disruption can sometimes be altogether random. And that can be quite frustrating to users simply trying to get through a normal workday.
In his post "Google and the Great Firewall: An Interesting New Twist," Atlantic writer James Fallows weighed in on the Google news.

First, Fallows explained how Chinese users access Google in the wake of the company's confrontation with the Chinese government two years ago: "Google moved its Chinese search servers outside the mainland, to Hong Kong. People in Beijing, Shanghai, and elsewhere on the mainland can still use Google, but their queries must pass through 'Great Firewall' filters on their way out to Hong Kong and then back in again."
Added Fallows, "The brilliance of the multi-layered screening systems that together make up the Firewall is that they are neither airtight nor fully predictable. Unless you are brazenly searching for some obviously taboo term, you're never certain what exactly has triggered a blockage -- or, often, whether your query is being blocked at all, versus your having run into some routine internet problem."
And this is where Google is trying to offer some help.

"We've observed that many of the terms triggering error messages are simple everyday Chinese characters, which can have different meanings in different contexts," Google wrote in its blog post. As a result, its search engine for China will now highlight potential problem terms as users type, and then offer a drop-down menu with an "interruption" link, "which takes them to [a] help center article. They can continue with their original query (which will likely lead to an error message), or click 'Edit search terms,' which will remove the highlighted characters and prompt users to try other search terms....In order to avoid connection problems, users can refine their searches without the problem keywords."

For Fallows, Google's new approach to this problem is "worth study on the ongoing rich question of China's conflicted embrace of the Internet."

As well, Fallows notes one of his reader's reactions to Google's move: "I like it; it's not only helpful, but serves as a constant, in-your-face reminder to users in China that the government is censoring search results to such an extent that even seemingly innocuous words can get one's connection interrupted. In other words; it's a passive aggressive way for Google to point out just how insecure the Chinese government is."

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The SEO Rip-Off by Joe Balestrino

15:01 Posted by: Sohel Parvez 0 comments

I have decide to write this article as a result of numerous emails. It seems more and more people are falling victim to bad SEO. The main complaint is that they are paying entirely too much for little or no results. Additionally, many fall prey to bad SEO practices. If you plan to hire an SEO pro in the future, I suggest you use this article as a set of guidelines.

Before going with any SEO firm or individual, do the following:

A) Find out how established and experienced an SEO firm is before you negotiate.
Do they have a sizeable client list under their belt?
Are they published?

B) Scrutinize their portfolio.
What kind of results have they achieved?
Contact a few of their clients. Were they satisfied with the work performed?

C) Consider and confirm their methods?
How will they optimize your site to reach your keywords?
Do they use organic methods? Some individuals or companies use doorway pages, hide text in the background, utilize re-directs and other blacklisted methods. Stay away from these.

D) Get a least three proposals from different SEO firms.
Look at each one carefully. Are there similarities? Proposals will help you see which companies are honest and which are trying to sell you something you don't need.
What is the cost? The cheapest isn't always the best, however, the highest price may not be attached to a comprehensive and viable course of action. Try to find find an individual or organization that will give you what you want within your SEO budget.

E) Contract, Contract, Contract.
Get everything in writing. Look over the document carefully. Be sure it covers everything you have discussed, including methods of achieving your desired results. Have the copies signed by both parties. If the job is a large one you may want to consult a lawyer.

F) Clearly state the terms of payment.
While most SEO firms will not do any work for free or agree to a results based pay scale, many competant SEO professionals will not shy away from a base plus performance incentive package. I am not a firm believer in prepaid contracts.. Most SEO professionals will abide by the 50% up front, 50% upon completion standard. Make sure all financial terms are as clearly defined in your contract as the actual scope of work. This will protect all parties involved in the event that expectations are not met.

All in all, try to do your best to educate yourself on SEO. Have a basic understanding of SEO terminology and SEO methodology. Anyone offering SEO services should not have a problem explaining how they intend to get you results. If they fail gain your confidence or raise a red flag for any reason whatsoever, keep searching. You will eventually find someone who will help you reach your goals for a fair price. Happy hunting.

Originally Published by Joe Balestrino


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