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7 . 1 . 15

Industry News – Round-Up #3


Last month, we turned out eye towards stories focused on innovations in Bing and Google, the impact of EU legislation on search results, and even wearable technology for canines. As this news round-up has an “all things search” bias, let’s being with looking at updates from Mountain View.

New and redesigned reCAPTCHA

In an attempt to break down one of the barriers to internet use, improve security, and reduce frustrations with trying to decipher the increasingly fuzzy words Google have redesigned the CAPTCHA. If you have recently been submitting content using forms on the public web you might have noticed, that the new reCAPTCHA (named “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA”) in most cases, doesn’t use control words. Most often all the user needs to do is to tick a button next to the “I am not a robot” text.

noCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA

Based on years of research focused on eliminating spam bots, the search giant has developed a risk analysis back-end to more accurately identify and filter out unwanted spammers.

How does it work? Part of the risk analysis looks at the way the user moves the mouse pointer towards the check box, the more sophisticated algorithms look at other clues  humans leave behind when using the web such as cookies, browser history, but also other things like IP addresses, location history, and other variables which are kept secret. If the risk analysis engine fails to identify the user it falls back onto challenges we have been familiar with for years, but also some new ones, such as identifying content of displayed photographs.

Have you seen the new CAPTCHA “in the wild”? Do you find it easier to solve or is it causing you headaches? Let us know if the comments. If you haven’t try the noCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA demo site, and to find out more watch the short video embedded below.

If you are a web master or a business owner, we advise you consider implementing the new bot detection system as it might improve your users’ experience, but also increase conversion rates.

Google Contributor removes ads for a small fee

Google has launched an experimental service which allows visitors to pay a small monthly fee to avoid advertising on sites which use the company’s ad serving technology. Part of the monthly payment gets passed onto to the websites the user visits most often and the ads are replaced with a thank you message. They can be removed completely on mobile devices based on the publisher’s settings.

At the moment this programme has been available on 10 partner sites, including Science Daily, WikiHow, and Imgur. For the time being access to Contributor is by invitation only, and is available only in the United States.

It will be interesting to see how successful the experiment is. It appears to be a reasonable alternative to pay walls, the freemium business model, paid versions of applications and…. ads. The question we should be asking here is: are readers ready to pay a small amount of money for ad-free content? We’ll be keeping an eye on this project to find out!

Google Contributor Use Example

Improving the Quality of Google Maps data

If you’re interested in what happens behind the scenes of Google Maps, you might want to have a look at Greg Miller’s article on Wired. In his piece he describes the massive amount of data that is packed into the product, and how it’s all combined and maintained. Miller also draws attention to the role of Street View photography, and the way it is being processed by algorithms, but also by a small army of humans (Project Ground Truth) in order to add even more depth to Maps and Navigation.

A lot has changed since the Google I/O developer conference in 2013, but the following video can give you even more insight into how one of Google’s most successful project works.

Data From Wearables is Used as Courtroom Evidence

Did you get any technology-related gifts during the holidays? Maybe it was a new smartphone or a wearable device? Do you use a fitness tracking app, such as Google Fit?

While some have some privacy concerns relating to the depth and amount of data gathered by these trackers, others are happy to know that if needed it can be used as evidence in court.

Recently, it has been used to support claims of someone injured in an accident, which led to a significant decrease  in their activity levels. Data from a Fitbit was analysed by an analytics platform and acted as a “black box” for the person making the claim. You can read more about this personal injury claim case on Forbes.

fitbit-promo-image-dog

Google Pigeon Update rolls out in the UK

In late December Google confirmed that their search engine Pigeon update has been rolled out to English-speaking countries outside of the United States, where it was introduced earlier in July.

The update focuses on improving local search results and connecting them in better with Google Maps results, which is expected to impact local businesses. One of the main ways the quality has been improved is by relying heavier on the location’s physical distance. Read more about the Pigeon update in this blog post written by our colleague Graham.

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(Featured image by thellr under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license. No changes made to the original image.)

Sav SzymuraSav Szymura (BA Hons Business and Psychology) is a Search Analyst at twentysix. With over 4 years of agency experience he delivers practical and effective search engine optimisation solutions. Away from the office he enjoys trail running, cycling, and all things science fiction. Sav can be also found on Twitter.

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