Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Google, Yahoo! And Microsoft Are Getting Aggressive On Phishing Scams

A new e-mail authentication process expected to have profound impact.


By James Hobson

Major e-mail providers, including Google, Yahoo! And Microsoft (Bing) are poised to launch a robust initiative for improving email authentication, thereby making phishing scams more difficult to work. The major search engines have the support of other major sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook – all of whom have to deal with phishing scams around the world. Phishing scams cost consumers billions of dollars each year, and cause substantial problems for legitimate businesses operating online.


It is worth noting that these measures are being done without government direction or mandate, and without any need for suspect legislation such as SOPA.


This initiative is also supported by most of the top email service and technology providers including Fidelity Investments, Bank of America, PayPal, Ebay and more. These companies often take the heat for phishing scams, and spend millions of dollars each year to investigate and address phishing scam problems. PayPal is reported to detect and block over 1,000,000 phishing emails each week.



Google has filed a patent application for a process of using an over-layed image for authenticating sites. The search engines may take the extra measures of disabling links on suspected phishing sites. Google’s extensive wealth of information is a cornerstone in being able to identify phishing websites.



Another proposed method of fighting phishing sites si a new security initiative that would move emailers well forward of traditional SMTP processes. The new process being proposed is called DMARC , an acronym for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance.


A DMARC press release includes the following:

". . . The DMARC specification addresses concerns that have traditionally hindered widespread deployment of an authenticated, trusted email ecosystem. Today, email receivers lack a reliable way to know the extent to which an email sender uses standards like SPF and DKIM for authenticating their messages. As a result, providers must rely on complex and imperfect measurements to separate legitimate unauthenticated messages sent by the domain owner from fraudulent phishing messages sent by a scammer.

By introducing a standards-based framework, DMARC has defined a more comprehensive and integrated way for email senders to introduce email authentication technologies into their infrastructure. For example, a sender could set policies to easily request a provider to discard unauthenticated email in order to block phishing attacks. The specification also creates a mechanism for email providers to send detailed reports back to email senders to help catch any gaps in the authentication system. This feedback loop raises the trust level within the email ecosystem and makes it easier to detect and stop phishing attempts. . . "

Any of these improvements will be a huge gain for consumers and service providers. While the problem of phishing scams will not be fully stopped, it will make it much more difficult for current phishing scams to work.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Google Places Help 2012

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The value of local search results continues to increase, and this is especially true for Google Places pages. Because the bottom-line value of a high ranking Google Places page is so important, many business owners are actively seeking Google Places Help with online searches. This article is provided to assist people in finding legitimate providers of Google Places help.


First, let's consider what Google Places can do for your business, and what it may include. After defining these elements we will move on to selecting a Google Places Consultant.

The bottom line benefit for your business is improving the relevant rankings for your Google Places page. This greatly increases the potential for more inquiries or in-store visits from prospective customers.

Google Places services should include numerous tasks, all of which should be geared towards improving value to the user - this is what Google ultimately wants to happen. This means doing things in a proper and "white-hat" manner (many Google Places help services use black-hat practices). The first thing that should happen is that any Google Places pages should be established in a Google account which you own and control. Do not use a service that in any way limits or blocks your access to your information.

Google Places Page Information
When establishing your Google Places page you should make use of every possible manner to include true and accurate information that may be useful to a prospective customer. Always follow Google Places guidelines!


1) Your name should be your true company name and not any keyword stuffing.
2) Your address must be a legitimate business street address, and not a mailbox location, or non-public area like a warehouse or equipment storage facility.
3) Your description is limited to characters, and should be void of "sales hype". You shhould include a good key phrase or two in your description.
4) Details such as business hours, payment options, etc. are important to consumers. Always keep these updated!
5) Your category selections must include at least one category suggested by Google. You can create others using key phrases but do not use city or area names.
6) Photos are limited to eight images. We suggest working your images to display as a true square shape to prevent distortion. The images are displayed in the order uploaded, so upload your logo first. Other image considerations are product images, accreditations such as BBB logo, and credit card logos. You may want to have a short text message on your images.
7) Videos have tremendous value. A video adds a personal touch and is a great way to deliver your "elevator pitch", show off your business location, and have greater influence on prospective customers. Furthermore, a Places page with video is usually ranked higher that a Places page without video content.
8) Additional details is an area where you have a lot of latitude to include facts that can help a customer choose your business. Information on parking options, brands carried, delivery options, etc. are good to mention.

Google Places Help Companies
A legitimate Google Places help company can make a profound impact on your bottom line. Finding the best Google Places help company for your business is worth taking adequate time to investigate and compare companies. Here are some key points to consider:

1) Business Structure, which is your assurance of stability, reliability and capabilities. You need a company that has a true business office, a staff, and a solid customr base. Entrusting your business to a lone person working from home is a major mistake, and chances are very good that they will not provide truly professional work.
2) Qualifications, let's you know that the company has been around awhile, established a good reputation and earned your trust. Having BBB accreditation, being a member of Google Engage, Adwords Professional, Analytics Professional or similar achievements identifies a good company.
3) Work Process, is a critical area to evaluate. Is there a formal process? Is it completed by in-house staff or outsourced overseas? Do you get any type of reporting? How is your information gathered and developed?
4) Ongoing Support, is a serious consideration for any company that relies on an internet presence to impact sales. working with a "one-trick pony" will cause you problems when you need SEO work, Yahoo Local or Bing Business Portal help, website support or related services. If you're going to hire a company, make certain that they can do more for your business.

Google Places Help Costs will vary, however it is important to know that you should NOT be pressured into ongoing monthly fees to manage or promote your Google Places page! Unless your business facts change, or you have new content such as photos or videos, there is no work to do on your actual Places page. Beware of hustlers who push for monthly fees!

Google Places Help Recommendations
TigerSEO Internet Marketing
E-Gumball
Optilocal

If you have any specific questions or needs, feel free to contact us. We will be glad to contact you directly, or answer you question in a new post.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Google Changes Mean SEO Adjustments - Megasitelinks and more

By James Hobson
In December, Google rolled out 30 new search quality highlights that will (or already have) affect SEO work. As usual, all of these have their own Google code names such as DAFFIE and Porky Pig. Here is a list of the changes, as shown on the Google Search blog on 1/05/12. >>


•Image Search landing page quality signals. [launch codename “simple”] This is an improvement that analyzes various landing page signals for Image Search. We want to make sure that not only are we showing you the most relevant images, but we are also linking to the highest quality source pages.

•More relevant sitelinks. [launch codename “concepts”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] We improved our algorithm for picking sitelinks. The result is more relevant sitelinks; for example, we may show sitelinks specific to your metropolitan region, which you can control with your location setting.

•Soft 404 Detection. Web servers generally return the 404 status code when someone requests a page that doesn’t exist. However, some sites are configured to return other status codes, even though the page content might explain that the page was not found. We call these soft 404s (or “crypto” 404s) and they can be problematic for search engines because we aren’t sure if we should ignore the pages. This change is an improvement to how we detect soft 404s, especially in Russian, German and Spanish. For all you webmasters out there, the best practice is still to always use the correct response code.

•More accurate country-restricted searches. [launch codename “greencr”] On domains other than .com, users have the option to see only results from their particular country. This is a new algorithm that uses several signals to better determine where web documents are from, improving the accuracy of this feature.

•More rich snippets. We improved our process for detecting sites that qualify for shopping, recipe and review rich snippets. As a result, you should start seeing more sites with rich snippets in search results.

•Better infrastructure for autocomplete. This is an infrastructure change to improve how our autocomplete algorithm handles spelling corrections for query prefixes (the beginning part of a search).

•Better spam detection in Image Search. [launch codename “leaf”] This change improves our spam detection in Image Search by extending algorithms we already use for our main search results.

•Google Instant enhancements for Japanese. For languages that use non-Latin characters, many users use a special IME (Input Method Editor) to enter queries. This change works with browsers that are IME-aware to better handle Japanese queries in Google Instant.

•More accurate byline dates. [launch codename “foby”] We made a few improvements to how we determine what date to associate with a document. As a result, you’ll see more accurate dates annotating search results.

•Live results for NFL and college football. [project codename “Live Results”] We’ve added new live results for NFL.com and ESPN’s NCAA Football results. These results now provide the latest scores, schedules and standings for your favorite football teams.

•Improved dataset for related queries. We are now using an improved dataset on term relationships to find related queries. We sometimes include results for queries that are related to your original search, and this improvement leads to results from more relevant related queries.

•Related query improvements. [launch codename “lyndsy”] Sometimes we fetch results for queries that are related to the original query but have fewer words. We made several changes to our algorithms to make them more conservative and less likely to introduce results without query words.

•Better lyrics results. [launch codename “baschi”, project codename “Contra”] This change improves our result quality for lyrics searches.

•Tweak to +1 button on results page. As part of our continued effort to deliver a beautifully simple user experience across Google products, we’ve made a subtle tweak to how the +1 button appears on the results page. Now the +1 button will only appear when you hover over a result or when the result has already been +1’d.

•Better spell correction in Vietnamese. [project codename “Pho Viet”] We launched a new Vietnamese spelling model. This will help give more accurate spelling predictions for Vietnamese queries.

•Upcoming events at venues. We've improved the recently released places panel for event venues. For major venues, we now show up to three upcoming events on the right of the page. Try it for [staples center los angeles] or [paradise rock club boston].
•Improvements to image size signal. [launch codename “matter”] This is an improvement to how we use the size of images as a ranking signal in Image Search. With this change, you’ll tend to see images with larger full-size versions.

•Improved Hebrew synonyms. [launch codename “SweatNovember”, project codename “Synonyms”] This update refines how we handle Hebrew synonyms across multiple languages. Context matters a lot for translation, so this change prevents us from using translated synonyms that are not actually relevant to the query context.

•Safer searching. [launch codename “Hoengg”, project codename "SafeSearch"] We updated our SafeSearch tool to provide better filtering for certain queries when strict SafeSearch is enabled.

•Encrypted search available on new regional domains. Google now offers encrypted search by default on google.com for signed-in users, but it’s not the default on our other regional domains (eg: google.fr for France). Now users in the UK, Germany and France can opt in to encrypted search by navigating directly to an SSL version of Google Search on their respective regional domains: https://www.google.co.uk, https://www.google.de and https://www.google.fr.

•Faster mobile browsing. [launch codename “old possum”, project codename “Skip Redirect”] Many websites redirect smartphone users to another page that is optimized for smartphone browsers. This change uses the final smartphone destination url in our mobile search results, so you can bypass all the redirects and load the target page faster.