Google updates Search Console

Google has been testing the new version of search console in beta for a few months and will now start making it available to all verified users. Users will receive a message once their site is available in the new Search Console.

Functionality will include redesigned Search Performance and Index Coverage, as well as AMP status and Job Posting reports. Users will welcome the expansion of data in Search Performance to 16 months, making it easier to analyze long term trends. Google has also added the ability to share reports internally within an organization, to simplify internal knowledge sharing and collaboration.

While #Google continues work on adding features the two versions will exist side by side, and users will be able to move easily between the old and new Search Console via links in the navigation bar.

Search Performance

Search performance is similar to the current Search Analytics. It has 16 months of data, which is something users have been requesting. The data will also be made available via the Search Console API in the near future.

Search Performance

Search Console gives full details about the Search Performance feature.

Index Coverage

The updated Index Coverage report gives a comprehensive insight into how your site is being indexed by Google and makes it easy to find tools to test and resubmit URLs. Google says:

“It shows correctly indexed URLs, warnings about potential issues, and reasons why Google isn’t indexing some URLs. The report is built on our new Issue tracking functionality that alerts you when new issues are detected and helps you monitor their fix.”

Index Coverage

Google’s screenshot outlines the process in these numbered steps:

1.Clicking any error URL brings up page details and links to diagnostic tools to help understand the source of the problem.

2.The new Share button in Search Console lets you share the report within your team to facilitate a fix.

3.Select a flagged issue and click on Validate Fix to confirm you’ve resolved the problem. Google will recrawl and reprocess the URL with higher priority.

4.Google says the Index Coverage report works best for sites that have submitted a sitemap. You can use the sitemap filter to focus on an exact list of URLs.

Search Console’s report on Index Coverage gives more details.

The AMP status and Job Posting reports also focus on providing error data. You’ll be able to see which AMP urls have errors, get diagnostic help, and resubmit once fixed. For those with job listings on their site, the Job Posting report will show indexing stats and any errors.

For full details on the new Search Console rollout, see Google’s blog post.

#ABCO #Technology teaches a comprehensive program for web design. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday at: (310) 216-3067

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. STE #588
Los Angeles, ca. 90304

Build successful web pages today!

The State of Mobile User Experience

The State of Mobile User Experience
By Charles Pascal

Summary: Ten years from the original iPhone, the field of mobile UX has finally reached maturity.

The original iPhone was released in June 2007. In late 2009, when ABCO Technology wrote the research for the first article of our mobile report, most people still had primitive mobile devices with horrible user experience. At the time, anything that was half-way decent was a pleasant experience compared with the misery caused by most mobile devices and most mobile sites.

Three years ago, when the second article of the mobile report came out, we did a thorough evaluation of the state of mobile usability. At the time, we were happy to report that mobile usability was no longer an oxymoron— and we finally saw many sites and apps with decent usability. With the new third 2018 article of our mobile-UX research report, we continue to see progress.

Today, most mobile sites and applications offer a good user experience. There are still the occasional glitches and sacrifices of usability in favor of aesthetics, but we can confidently say that the field has progressed in the past two years since the last article. Most of the egregious errors are not there anymore. When we tried to update the examples for many of our mobile guidelines, we discovered that the companies had fixed their problems and some of the issues that we discussed were no longer common. Yet we also encountered revivals of problems we thought almost extinct two years ago. In the business of usability, mistakes (like trends) tend to be cyclic: one generation identifies them and creates design patterns that avoid them, but later generations, no longer having witnessed the UX problem, make the same error again in their quest for refreshed designs. It’s always two steps forward and one step backward.

Content vs. Chrome

The importance of prioritizing content over UI elements (that is, chrome) was one of the lessons learned from responsive design. The hamburger-menutrend was a consequence of that lesson: designers were trying to minimize the number of UI elements visible on the screen because these took away precious content space. Two years later, designers continue to value the screen real estate on mobile devices — but they’ve reached measure in hiding the chrome. A break has been put on the hamburger trend. It’s still very widespread (as we argue elsewhere, hidden navigation is the only option for some sites), but many have understood that it should not be used if a better pattern (such as a visible navigation bar) is available.

Prioritizing content over chrome has trickled in other design areas: for instance, we no longer see results pages headed by fat filters that occupy half the page. Or, the nested-doll pattern, which involved having users make a sequence of selections through multiple pages before encountering content, is no longer as popular as it used to be. At least some companies have started to understand that it’s better to flatten the navigation structure on mobile: show people a variety of content right away and allow them to later narrow it down to a specific category of interest.

Walgreens.com used the nested-doll navigation pattern, which used to be popular in the past but is becoming less widespread. It required users to make 4 category selections before they could see any products. However, Walgreens tried to create the illusion of content by adding product images to the some of the category-selection pages, which suggests that designers were likely aware of the tedium of this category-based design.

#Google Express for iPhone: Instead of listing all the subcategories under Grocery, a few items were displayed under each. Instead of using a category-based design where users had to decide among different categories, the app rightly used a content-based design.

Use of Gestures

Gestures solve the problem of too much chrome on a too small screen, but they are notoriously hard to discover and learn. Some of the original gesture enthusiasm (embodied by gesture-only apps such as Clear Todos) has dampened down, but gesture use is still one of the more promising directions in mobile design.

Clear Todos for iPhone, whose first version appeared around 2012, used a variety of gestures to compensate for the lack of visual interface elements. These gestures were hard to remember.

Unfortunately, gestures are a chicken-and-egg problem: they won’t become easy to learn and use until a standard vocabulary of gestures used across apps and websites is built, and all applications and websites use these gestures consistently. But, on the other hand, designers are forced to stay away from gestures because they have so little familiarity among their user base.

Apple has had multiple attempts to expand the standard vocabulary of gestures (with the introduction of 3D Touch for iPhone 6S) and to delegate some of the visible chrome to gestures. Their attempts have culminated with the iPhone X — which got rid of the iPhone’s only physical button to replace it with a series of swipe gestures. The result has been a more effective use of the screen at the expense of some initial learning hurdles for people used with the old Home button.

#3D Touch was a promising direction, but it is still relatively rarely used by applications. However, two other (old) gestures are increasing in popularity to the point of being added to that basic gesture vocabulary: the swipe-to-delete for exposing some contextual actions including delete, and the two-finger scroll for moving around a map embedded on a webpage. While the swipe-to-delete simply adds a convenient way to perform contextual actions on a list element, the two-finger scroll solves the problem of swipe ambiguity, often encountered when maps are embedded in web pages. These gestures are becoming more and more familiar to users, although we still recommend that designs which use them add other redundant ways to perform the same actions or at least have good contextual tips to guide users.

The two-finger scroll gesture is becoming a standard for map scrolling and solves the problem of swipe ambiguity (where users attempt to scroll the page and accidentally scroll the map or viceversa).

Better Integration Between the Mobile Web and the App Web

Transitioning from the web to an app used to require a specific user action: on iOS, people had to explicitly choose to open an app and then perform a search inside it. From iOS 9 on, it’s become possible to easily transition between the mobile web and the app web— if I search for a movie in a search engine, some of the search results will seamlessly open corresponding application pages (when users have these applications installed).

When a link to a movie on the search-results page was selected, the control moved from Safari to the iMDb app. The Back-to-appbutton was displayed in the top left corner of the status bar and was labeled with the name of the previously used app (Safari).

This seamless transition from browser to app, or, more generally, from one app to the next ensures that the experience of consuming content is optimal — because, most often, applications will have a better user experience than sites(simply because they are closer to the mobile platform for which they were designed).

Unfortunately, with this design we also see a new burden placed on users: that of keeping track of where they are and knowing how to navigate back. Applications still have to accommodate that need — for example, we still notice that many apps (like iMDb above) do not include logos on their deep pages, which makes it more difficult for users to orient themselves in this new expanded app-plus-web universe.

A notable improvement, possibly related to the increased ease of switching from browser to app, has been a lower number of interstitial app ads. (Almost) gone are the days when navigating to a new site was preceded by an interstitial inviting the user to download the app. Most of the time, the app is simply advertised in a banner at the top of a web page.

Better Use of Phone Features

Although not perfect, more and more sites and apps take advantage of basic phone functionality. Checking out on many ecommerce sites has become a breeze due to integrated systems like Apple Pay and Android Pay. And most sites and apps take into account the user’s current location. Biometric authentication promises to get us closer from the problem of remembering passwords, and can even make desktop login easier by allowing users to easily transfer information (and thus automatically log in) across devices.

When setting up a new iPhone, there was no need to type in credentials to authenticate: they were automatically transferred from a nearby device.

Fewer Tutorials: Stagnation

A few years ago, any respectable app started with a lengthy tutorial that catalogued all the different features available in the app. These tutorials were at worst annoying and at best ineffective — no user could remember the plethora of commands listed in a lengthy tutorial. Nor were they motivated to remember any of them — after all, who could say in advance what features would be actually useful?

Today, those tutorials have been largely replaced with general overviews of the apps, meant to convince the user to go beyond the login walland create an account. Ideally, these login walls should disappear completely and users should be able to experience the app without having to register at all. The initial app overviews play the function of an ad — and most people hate to have to sit through an ad, especially if they’ve already spent the effort to download the app.

Steps Backward

Although overall the responsive-design trend has been a positive influence, the quest for building across multiple interaction modalities has pushed some towards strange solutions like using a split-button for menus or accordions. The intent behind the split-buttonmenu is to replicate desktop’s hover-plus-click interaction for categories in the main navigation — that is, to allow access both to a category landing page and to a submenu. Yet it is a highly unusable solution — not only because it crams two targets in a small space and makes the job of acquiring each of them more difficult for human fingers, but also because it violates users’ expectations and the mobile patterns that they have learned so far.

Another somewhat surprising development has been the disappearance of guest checkout. Sites and apps that used to offer this functionality in the past have eliminated it — some rely on Check out with Apple Payor Check out with PayPalto compensate for the lack of guest checkout. But many still force users to create an account although they may be one-time purchasers. On the plus side, registration has been simplified in many designs — it is fairly common nowadays to be asked only for an email and a password in order to create an account.

The popularity of the overlay has increased, with many sites implementing menus as overlays. Two years ago, many mobile overlays were buggy and created funny effects (such as content behind the overlay suddenly appearing on top of it). Today’s overlays are much better. But they often look like full pages, and people treat them as such — expecting to be able to use the Backbutton to close them and navigate back to the previous view. Often, they get disoriented when that does not happen and instead they are spit out of the site. When an entire flow is moved in overlays (as it is the case with the increasingly popular sequential menus), the opportunity for errors increases even more, with people forgetting to use the menu’s Back button to ensure correct navigation in the overlay and instead using the browser or the phone’s Backbutton.

LATimes.com: The menu was displayed in an overlay that looked like a new page (left). In spite of the Closebutton in the top left corner, people will still be tempted to tap the browser’s Backbutton to close the overlay. If they did so, they would be taken to the previously visited page (the search-engine page — right) instead of to the LA Times homepage.

Conclusion

Ten years from the first iPhone, the field of mobile user experience has finally reached a reasonable level of maturity. It was about time — according to a recent report by comScore, in many parts of the world, more than half of the online time is spent on mobile. So it’s only right that mobile usability catches up with desktop usability. It doesn’t mean that mobile sites and apps have reached a state of usability perfection: there’s no such thing as a perfect design. It simply means that a lot of them offer a decent user experience, and that many flagrant errors of the past have been fixed.

ABCO Technology teaches a comprehensive course for E-commerce. Call our technical college campus today. You can reach us between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Build highly successful webpages today!

Google’s assistant competes with Amazon

Amazon Echo and its voice assistant, Alexa, might be the current market leaders in voice-activated smart technology, but recent announcements from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show have shown that Google fully intends to challenge Amazon for that crown.

The past few days have seen some big developments – and a couple of even bigger teasers – for the future of Google’s smart assistant, the imaginatively-named Assistant.

On Tuesday, the first day of CES 2018, Google published a post to its official blog announcing partnerships with more than a dozen electronics companies to produce Google Assistant smart speakers – some with a very significant upgrade.

The blog post also highlighted the breadth and depth of “Actions”, the name given to built-in apps and integrations for the Google Assistant. At the same time, Search Console users began receiving notifications that their podcast, recipe and news content was eligible to be included in a new “Actions directory”, which is being rolled out over the next few days.

This appears to be part of an increased focus on what can be accomplished with Assistant, shifting its emphasis from finding information (Google’s long-time speciality) to carrying out tasks.

There’s a lot of news to unpack, so let’s look at what exactly these developments involve, and what they mean for SEOs and the wider industry.

SEOs using structured data are first to the Google Assistant party

While a comparatively smaller development than the flashy revelations of major electronics partnerships and smart displays, Google’s introduction of native support for podcasts, recipes and news to the Assistant is nevertheless big news for SEOs.

I owe a hat tip to Aaron Bradley of SEO Skeptic, whose post to the Semantic Search Marketing Google+ group first tipped me off to this development. In turn, he was tipped off by SEO consultant Dan Shure, who tweeted about a Google Search Console alert he’d received inviting him to “improve discovery” of his podcast in the Google Assistant

Google is gradually rolling out a browsable directory of Actions for the Google Assistant, allowing users to more easily discover what the Assistant is capable of.

Podcasts, recipes and news will be the first wave of content added to this directory – though only content published with AMP, or marked up with structured data such as Schema.org, will be getting the nod.

This means that webmasters and SEOs who have been marking up their content with structured data are already ahead of the curve in making that content available via voice – while those who haven’t must hop on the structured data (or AMP) bandwagon if they want to be eligible.

Structured data has long been touted by its fans as a great way to get search engines to better surface content from your site, particularly in the form of things like rich snippets or Quick Answers. But it can be time-consuming to add and maintain, and the immediate benefit isn’t always so obvious.

This new use case, however, shows that there is a huge potential advantage to “future-proofing” your website by adding structured data markup. If Google continues to make Assistant a primary focus going forward, then this could be the key to content optimization and discovery in a voice-driven world.

Hey, Google – look what I can do!

As discussed, Google is clearly keen to shift the focus of its voice capabilities away from information discovery towards actions.

To this end, it’s heavily promoting “Hey, Google” as the slogan for the Google Assistant, placing it in huge letters on top of its CES installation, and creating a #HeyGoogle Twitter hashtag (complete with a unique Assistant emoji) to accompany their Assistant-related updates.

But wait, you might be thinking – isn’t “OK Google” the wake phrase for the Assistant?

Yes, Google has been a bit unclear on this point, but it seems that “Hey, Google” has been an alternative wake phrase for the Assistant for a while now. In late 2016, the website Android Police reported that the Google Home responds to both “OK Google” and “Hey, Google”, but Google voice search (e.g. on mobile) responds only to “OK Google” – making it possible to differentiate if you have multiple devices within earshot.

Now, as Google moves its focus away from search and towards actions, “OK Google” is out and “Hey, Google” is in.

#ABCO #Technology teaches E-commerce courses in its web design program. Voice search is powerful and you need to get onboard with it now! Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Get started marking your pages for voice search today!

#Amazon Echo and its voice assistant, Alexa, might be the current market leaders in voice-activated smart technology, but recent announcements from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show have shown that Google fully intends to challenge Amazon for that crown.

The past few days have seen some big developments – and a couple of even bigger teasers – for the future of Google’s smart assistant, the imaginatively-named Assistant.

On Tuesday, the first day of #CES 2018, Google published a post to its official blog announcing partnerships with more than a dozen electronics companies to produce Google Assistant smart speakers – some with a very significant upgrade.

The blog post also highlighted the breadth and depth of “Actions”, the name given to built-in apps and integrations for the Google Assistant. At the same time, Search Console users began receiving notifications that their podcast, recipe and news content was eligible to be included in a new “Actions directory”, which is being rolled out over the next few days.

This appears to be part of an increased focus on what can be accomplished with Assistant, shifting its emphasis from finding information (Google’s long-time speciality) to carrying out tasks.

There’s a lot of news to unpack, so let’s look at what exactly these developments involve, and what they mean for SEOs and the wider industry.

#SEOs using structured data are first to the Google Assistant party

While a comparatively smaller development than the flashy revelations of major electronics partnerships and smart displays, Google’s introduction of native support for podcasts, recipes and news to the Assistant is nevertheless big news for SEOs.

I owe a hat tip to Aaron Bradley of SEO Skeptic, whose post to the Semantic Search Marketing Google+ group first tipped me off to this development. In turn, he was tipped off by SEO consultant Dan Shure, who tweeted about a Google Search Console alert he’d received inviting him to “improve discovery” of his podcast in the Google Assistant

Google is gradually rolling out a browsable directory of Actions for the Google Assistant, allowing users to more easily discover what the Assistant is capable of.

Podcasts, recipes and news will be the first wave of content added to this directory – though only content published with AMP, or marked up with structured data such as Schema.org, will be getting the nod.

This means that webmasters and SEOs who have been marking up their content with structured data are already ahead of the curve in making that content available via voice – while those who haven’t must hop on the structured data (or AMP) bandwagon if they want to be eligible.

Structured data has long been touted by its fans as a great way to get search engines to better surface content from your site, particularly in the form of things like rich snippets or Quick Answers. But it can be time-consuming to add and maintain, and the immediate benefit isn’t always so obvious.

This new use case, however, shows that there is a huge potential advantage to “future-proofing” your website by adding structured data markup. If Google continues to make Assistant a primary focus going forward, then this could be the key to content optimization and discovery in a voice-driven world.

Hey, Google – look what I can do!

As discussed, Google is clearly keen to shift the focus of its voice capabilities away from information discovery towards actions.

To this end, it’s heavily promoting “Hey, Google” as the slogan for the Google Assistant, placing it in huge letters on top of its CES installation, and creating a #HeyGoogle Twitter hashtag (complete with a unique Assistant emoji) to accompany their Assistant-related updates.

But wait, you might be thinking – isn’t “OK Google” the wake phrase for the Assistant?

Yes, Google has been a bit unclear on this point, but it seems that “Hey, Google” has been an alternative wake phrase for the Assistant for a while now. In late 2016, the website Android Police reported that the Google Home responds to both “OK Google” and “Hey, Google”, but Google voice search (e.g. on mobile) responds only to “OK Google” – making it possible to differentiate if you have multiple devices within earshot.

Now, as Google moves its focus away from search and towards actions, “OK Google” is out and “Hey, Google” is in.

ABCO Technology teaches E-commerce courses in its web design program. Voice search is powerful and you need to get onboard with it now! Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Get started marking your pages for voice search today!

Top tips for voice search and mobile usage

Voice search and mobile usage are both on the rise and look set to shape the SEO industry for some time to come. Nonetheless, 62% of marketers have no specific plans for voice search in 2018.

How can marketers take action today to tap into two of the most important trends in the industry?

As mobile usage continues to grow, more and more users are comfortable with speaking to their devices rather than typing their queries.

Of equal importance are the advances in speech recognition technology that have allowed the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple to offer a satisfying voice search experience.

There is plentiful context to make marketers aware of these emerging trends, with both mobile and voice search set to shape the future of the industry:

◾Voice-enabled personal assistants are installed by default on all smartphones

◾Google has revealed that more than 20% of searches on an Android device are voice searches

◾The Amazon Alexa app recently topped the app store charts. The Google Home app occupied second position

◾The Amazon Echo was once again the best-selling item on Amazon this holiday season

◾Speech recognition accuracy is now north of 95% for all of the major technology providers

◾Google’s mobile-first indexis rolling out and will soon be applied to all sites

◾comScore predicts that 50% of all searches will be by voice in 2020.

Though the two are not perfectly aligned, there is a clear correlation between the growth of voice search and the ongoing rise of mobile.

As the Internet of Things takes off, voice will be one of the most important unifying factors across all hardware. Whether at home, in the car, or at work, there will always be a voice-enabled device close to hand.

And yet, a recent study by BrightEdgereported that 62% of marketers are unlikely to implement a specific strategy for voice search over the next 12 months.

This is not due to a lack of awareness of the trend, but rather a lack of direction when it comes to preparing for its implications.

In a clear indication of how significant the shift to voice-based searches will be, Google recently released a new set of Search Quality Rating Guidelines for the Google Assistant.

Though specific to the Google Assistant, we can safely assume that the same rules and objectives underpin the functioning of other digital assistants too.

As such, this document can prove both illuminating and instructive as we look to move beyond the hype that voice search brings and arrive at some tips to direct our mobile SEOefforts.

The findings in Google’s official guidelines for voice search evaluation, along with the best practices we already have for mobile SEO, can help us create a hybrid set of tips to improve any site’s chances of ranking in this new landscape.

This begins with some technical considerations, then moves on to a more nuanced understanding of how consumers are using voice to interact with their devices. Finally, we must create the right content to fit our target contexts, and find a way to measure our progress.

Technical SEO for mobile devices

As with so many aspects of SEO, crawlability is the foundation upon which a mobile SEO strategy for voice search must be built.

Put simply, if a search engine cannot access and understand your content, your chances of appearing in search results are slim. This as always been important, but it takes on a new level of significance when viewed through the lens of voice search.

Often, voice search removes the traditional search engine results page (SERP) and instead aims to provide one answer in response to a query. This is a search engine’s first port of call; it is only when one answer cannot conclusively answer the query that a more traditional list of results will be displayed.

Fortunately, there are some guidelines we can follow to increase the likelihood of our content ranking via voice search:

◾Schema markup: By adding schema markup, we can help to add structure to our website’s data. For example, we can alert search engines to elements that relate to events, prices, and people – among many others. When a search engine is trying to locate a response to a voice search, this extra information can prove invaluable.

◾XML sitemaps: Having a clearly structure sitemap that can be navigated easily both by people and by search engines will increase the likelihood that your information can be sourced quickly in response to a query.

◾Site structure: The structure of a website should mirror the journeys that users typically take when considering and making a purchase. For example, faceted navigation on an ecommerce site should aim to match common query strings.

◾Carry out a mobile SEO audit: Before embarking on any of the more innovative aspects of voice search, conduct a full mobile SEO site audit to ensure that you are in a solid position.

◾It is also worth reviewing the basics of mobile SEO to keep in mind the distinctions that set it apart from traditional SEO.

Understanding context

All language is contextual. The exact same query, at surface level, can in fact mean many different things based on how, when, where, and by whom it is said.

This is not a new discovery, but it is only recently that search engines have been able to understand the context of a query.

In part, this has been due to more sophisticated algorithms like Google’s Hummingbird update, which brought the concept of semantic searchto life.

However, the biggest source of contextual information is the smartphone. Our phones are constantly sending and receiving data, all of which can be processed to comprehend our past, present, and even our future behaviors.

Now, when a user searches for a term like [canon cameras], a search engine can use smartphone data to understand the implied intent of the query:

cameras

This implicit intent, now known to a search engine, can help to shape and personalize the results that the user sees.

There are other effects of this deeper understanding.

Varied queries can ultimately express the same underlying intent. For example:

sunny

The expression of the response may differ, but all variations are ultimately answering the same question. The user wants to know what the weather will be like tomorrow.

This is helpful, as it allows us to see that we don’t need to answer every single possible query that is out there. Many guides on voice SEO suggest creating FAQ pages as a way to grow traffic, but this seems a stop-gap solution when we can do better. SEO needs to move away from creating “SEO pages” on websites that serve no real purpose other than to attract organic search clicks.

Thus far, our industry has focused mainly on what has been said by searchers. We pull a list of keywords with search volumes, difficulty scores and so on, and we map those to our pages. Where a page does not exist for a group of keywords, we create one.

A further level of nuance can be added by segmenting the keywords by purchase stage: informational, navigational or transactional, for example. These can also be categorized as ‘Know’, ‘Go’, and ‘Do’ moments.

That is useful, but it is overly simplistic. What we often end up with is a comforting illusion; a spreadsheet that smooths over the rough edges to provide a digestible view of what people search for, cell by cell.

Reality does not fit so readily into neat compartments.

In a presentationgiven last year, Tom Anthony of Distilled mapped out what the new ecosystem looks like, based on the huge amount of data a smartphone both sends and receives:

tom_anthony

Even this is a reduction, but it does at least provide insight into the broader picture.

What this means is that when working on a mobile SEO strategy, we should identify the contexts in which our content could rank.

These contexts can be strung together to create a map of the typical user journey.

This can be informed by demographic data, as there are telling differences between the generations. In particular, we should note that younger generations are more comfortable with voice search and use it in very different situations to their older counterparts.

voice_search_today

Stone Temple Consulting produced an excellent, in-depth study that goes further still to segment this data by income. voice search seo incomeSource: Stone Temple Consulting

What we find through this report is that there are notable variations at every level of analysis. By location, gender, device, income level, and age, we find that people use voice search differently.

Marketers would do well to perform research of their own to pinpoint the right contexts for their business to target, through qualitative research and quantitative analysis.

Creating the right content at the right time

Once we have plotted out the potential contexts in which we could communicate with our audience, we need to create the content that will hopefully help us rank via voice search.

Though this is a nascent field, there are already some useful studies that can guide us in this process.

Voice queries tend to be longer, due to their closer relationship to natural speech patterns. This provides a significant amount of data for us to analyze, compared with the shorter queries we have grown accustomed to.

Where once we had to infer a consumer’s intent based on feedback signals (click-through rate, bounce rate, conversion rate), we can now start this process much earlier.

We should also bear in mind the anticipated input-output relationship between the consumer and the device. For example, a spoken query that prompts a spoken response will need to be fed by content that is clear, concise, and conclusive.

Google’s Research Blogoffers the following areas for assessment when it comes to this kind of voice search:

◾Information Satisfaction: the content of the answer should meet the information needs of the user.

◾Length: when a displayed answer is too long, users can quickly scan it visually and locate the relevant information. For voice answers, that is not possible. It is much more important to ensure that we provide a helpful amount of information, hopefully not too much or too little. Some of our previous work is currently in use for identifying the most relevant fragments of answers.

◾Formulation: it is much easier to understand a badly formulated written answer than an ungrammatical spoken answer, so more care has to be placed in ensuring grammatical correctness.

◾Elocution: spoken answers must have proper pronunciation and prosody. Improvements in text-to-speech generation, such as WaveNet and Tacotron 2, are quickly reducing the gap with human performance.

This insight should flow directly into the site experience. If we know which task our consumer is trying to complete, we can make this process and seamless and as painless as possible.

There are some points that apply to any site aiming to create content for voice search:

◾Remember that a voice search is only the start of the user journey. If your mobile site experience does not match the user’s intent, they will complete the journey elsewhere. Use a user-agent switcher or a site like http://mobiletest.me/to see how your mobile experience matches up.

◾Create content that responds to the most common conversational queries. Provide clear information that can easily be picked up by a search engine as it tries to provide one, true answer for each voice query. Tools like Answer the Publicare useful for this task, but try to assimilate this information naturally into your content rather than creating a host of FAQ pages.

◾Map this content to a logical site hierarchy that is crawlable for search engines and useful for consumers.

◾Google is preparing to add voice queries to Search Console, so we will soon be able to assess and track our voice search performance.

Given that voice searches on a mobile device are frequently completed on the go, it should not be surprising that users often want help with navigation.

Interestingly, the growth in the number of ‘near me’ searches has slowed as people have come to expect Google to understand this implied intent.

Google uses its own Maps product to respond to these queries, so we can optimize our own Maps listings to help search engines and people to navigate better. There are a few tips to keep in mind when working on a voice search strategy for local SEO:

◾Ensure that names, addresses and phone numbers are accurate across all locations.

◾Consider using a specialist platform to manage your local listings and monitor your local search performance. There is a growing range of mobile SEO tools that can help with these tasks.

◾Make it easy for consumers to act on their intentions. This means adding in clear calls to action and directions to further information.

What’s next for search?

It is important to understand Google’s vision for the future of search.

The technology has improved dramatically, but it is still some distance from fulfilling the ambitions of Google and Amazon. When this technology reaches its potential, there may be no need for a query at all, as the digital assistant will be able to pre-empt our actions.

For now, marketers need to assist the assistants in the manner outlined above.

In essence, technology is enabling behaviors that have their basis in pre-existing states of intent. The industry is growing in complexity, but simultaneously it is developing into a more realistic representation of how people want to search.

Through better understanding of both people and technology, marketers can create a voice search strategy that will stand the test of time.

ABCO Technology teaches an excellent course for the Certified Webmaster, which includes search engine optimization. Call our campus between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd STE #588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Build successful voice search webpages today!

New breakthroughs in cyber security by Polyverse will create new jobs for programmers and network administrators.

The “WannaCry” virus, which took down, among others, the National Health Services’ computer network in the United Kingdom last May, was formally labeled a North Korean plot by the U.S. last month. Lost in the foreign intrigue were some basic questions. Why had computer administrators in the U.K. and elsewhere not applied the software fix issued by Microsoft months earlier to protect the vulnerable Windows software? Or was the U.S.’s National Security Agency partly to blame for stockpiling malicious code?

Perhaps most important, why hadn’t billions of dollars worth of computer security gear from leading cyber protection companies such as Cisco Systems (ticker: CSCO), FireEye (FEYE), Palo Alto Networks (PANW), and Symantec (SYMC) foiled the attacks?

Not too surprisingly, the founders of a three-year-old cyber security start-up called Polyverse are convinced their new system “would have completely prevented WannaCry,” says Alex Gounares, the company’s CEO.

The chief technologist of Microsoft’s (MSFT) online unit back in the 2000s, Gounares—who was Bill Gates’ personal technology advisor—says the hackers’ success relied on a simple asymmetry: It costs far less to attack a computer system than it does to protect one. Existing systems build the equivalent of walls and moats around a castle, the so-called firewall that sniffs out intruders and tries to block access. The defenders must guess where they might be attacked and try to anticipate every possibility. It’s a costly and never-ending process.

The problem is that attackers can spend all the time they want studying the situation, looking for holes or ways to get around the protections. If anything, new discoveries have made it easier for hackers far less sophisticated than WannaCry’s creators to take control of a computer.

Polyverse, which has gotten good reviews for its fledgling system, tries to shift the balance of economic power back to the defenders. By replacing the basic instructions inside a computer program with alternate instructions, Polyverse keeps scrambling the code. Doors and windows familiar to hackers disappear quickly, raising the stakes—both on speed and spending—for attackers.

“Dollar for dollar, offense has been winning,” despite billions spent on computer defense, says Bryan Smith, who worked for six years at the National Security Agency and now runs a tech incubator called Bantam Technologies. “Polyverse actually does switch the advantage back to the defender.”

If #Polyverse or a rival does succeed, it will mark the latest shift in the decades-long war for control of computer networks. A computer operates via a series of instructions written by a programmer telling the microprocessor, the brains, to carry out one basic function over and over. That function is to take some values stored in its memory circuits, to perform an operation on them, such as addition, and stick the result back in memory. A hacker tries to gain control of a computer by replacing the programmer’s series of instructions with his own, either changing the operations specified or sometimes changing where in memory the chip fetches and stores values.

One of the last big strategic shifts in the war came in 2007, when a computer scientist named Hovav Shacham showed it was possible to use a computer’s own code against it without injecting new code. Code is a long string of ones and zeros, and the computer chip only knows the instructions by knowing how to divide the ones and zeros into the right sequence of bits that make up each successive instruction. But Shacham realized he could direct the chip to divide the ones and zeros differently, thus changing the instructions.

To complicate hackers’ task, Gounares, 46, conjured ways for them to find not the traditional string of instructions, but a completely different set. Polyverse’s technology is what’s called a binary scrambler. It mixes up the ones and zeros of a program but lets the users’ tasks be completed undisturbed. The exercise turns the attackers’ own game against them, employing different instructions before the attacker can.

AT MICROSOFT, Gounares was well aware of the common complaint that Windows was a “monoculture,” a uniform system that attracted a mass following of developers but also armies of attackers aware of the software’s vulnerabilities. At Gates’ famous retreats to contemplate high-level software issues, the two would occasionally discuss using epidemiology, or the study of the spread of disease, as a guide.

Gounares, who is fond of nerdy references, poses the question, “Why hasn’t the earth been taken over by the zombie apocalypse?” The answer is because human DNA varies enough that no diseases can spread so far they devastate the entire population. But software is like DNA that’s uniform: It can be compromised because it’s reliably the same.

The solution was to create “entropy,” as he puts it—a divergence in the code so that every computer has unique sequences of instructions running through it. Polyverse’s product to date has been for scrambling the Linux operating system. Later this year, it will offer a version that can scramble the entire Windows operating system and programs that run on Windows, says Gounares. Some customers have been given the Windows version to test.

POLYVERSE IS A VERY small company with a promising idea. Funded with just $6 million in private capital, the Seattle-area entity has less than $10 million in annual sales, though Gounares pledges that will rise into the tens of millions over the course of the next 12 months. That’s compared with roughly $2 billion annually in security-related revenue for Cisco, the biggest publicly traded cyber security vendor.

To be sure, Polyverse is not the only company to have thought of what’s known as “moving target defense.” The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Labs has a rich literature on the subject. But researchers there found problems cropping up: Either the scrambling is limited, leaving avenues of attack, or the scrambled programs degrade in performance.

“We have taken this from an academic approach to an industrial-strength system,” insists Gounares. Polyverse scrambles all the parts of a program, not just some, he says, and without affecting the performance a user experiences.

Steven Potter, a former Navy SEAL who heads sales, sees the military as a key market for Polyverse. There are U.S. weapons systems running on versions of Windows no longer supported by Microsoft. To rip and replace, as they say, those computer systems to make them safer can run into billions of dollars. Hence, a Polyverse sale can be an economical option for government, notes Potter, who served as a contractor in Afghanistan ensuring cargo was safe for the war effort. The firm has already won several military contracts.

Potter, however, becomes most animated when discussing the possibilities offered by the weakness of existing cyber companies. “Where the disruption comes from,” says Potter, “is that with the Palo Alto’s, and the FireEyes, and Symantecs, you can literally take a class and for $1,000, you can hack through any known firewall on the planet.”

Cisco, FireEye, and Symantec declined to comment, while Palo Alto did not return my calls last week.

With the publicity and questions that accompany each new WannaCry-like cyber disruption, Polyverse’s opportunity grows. The system of walls and moats just might be giving this company a great opening.

ABCO Technology offers a complete program for cyber security. Cyber security jobs in Los Angeles are exploding. If you are interested in a career in this exciting field, contact ABCO Technology.

You can reach us by telephone from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through
Friday at: (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Financial aid is available to all students who qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at: 11222 South La Cienega Blvd. STE #588

Los Angeles, Ca. 90304

Cyber security jobs will expand through 2030 says the US Department of Labor. Start your new career today!

Poor website performance is hurting your business

Poor website performance is one of the most widespread problems for business websites, yet it’s the most essential one hurting your company on many levels, from lost customers to a bad online reputation.

These easy-to-use tools will help you solve the problem.

Despite what some people may think, site speed is not a purely technical issue. Marketers have been talking about the necessity to speed up your page load for ages. Not only does poor page load time hurt your site usability, but it also hinders your rankings (by devistating your page engagement metrics), conversions, social media marketing campaign performance and so on.

Fixing the page load time issue is not that simple. It does take a strong development budget and good diagnostics tools. Luckily, I can help you with the latter:

Page Speed Insights

Google’s Page Speed Insights measures your page speed and provides Page Speed suggestions to make your web site faster.

page speed

The Page Speed Score ranges from 0 to 100 points. A score of 85 or above means your page speed is optimal. The tool distinguishes two main criteria: How fast your page above-the-fold loads and how fast the whole page loads. Each page is tested for mobile and desktop experience separately.

Each Page Speed suggestion is rated based on how important it is.

Pingdom

Pingdom monitors your site and reports if your site seems slow or down. It operates a network of over 60 servers to test your website from all over the world, which is very important for a global business website because your server location effects in which parts of the world your site reports well.

Pingdom also has a free tool you can test here. While Pingdom is mostly known as Uptime monitoring solution (you can read about Uptime here), it also does performance monitoring.

Because I monitor a lot of metrics for many websites, I use Cyfe to integrate Pingdom stats into my website monitoring dashboard:

cyfe

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache turns your dynamic WordPress blog pages into static HTML files for the majority of your users. This way your web server serves static files instead of processing the heavier WordPress PHP scripts.

This plugin will help your server cope with traffic spikes. It makes the pages faster to load, and stops those traffic overloads from happening in the case of a viral hit.

If you operate a huge database-driven website, a better solution for you would be setting up a content delivery network.

Incapsula

Speaking of your website being slow in remote parts of the world, Incapsula is a set of premium tools helping you to solve that problem. The platform offers a reliable Content Delivery Network, i.e. a network of servers all over the world allowing your site visitors to load files from the server located closer to them.

This means your site is fast wherever your future customers choose to load it from.

If you want to know more about how CDN works, here’s a very good resource to read and bookmark.

cdn-for-your-wordpress-blog-infographic

Compressor.io

Compressor.io is a handy tool to optimize your image size to allow for faster page load. As most web pages have images these days, this is a must-bookmark and use tool.

Compressor.io reduces the size of your images while maintaining a high quality. You’ll be surprised to find no difference in your images before and after compression.

The tool supports the following image formats: .jpg, .png, .gif, .svg. I have found it invaluable to animated GIF compression because all the tools I use produce really huge images.

compress

The tool is absolutely free and there’s no need to register to use it. Your files will be stored on the servers for 6 hours and then deleted, so don’t forget to download your optimized images!

If you want to learn how to optimize your website for search engines, call ABCO Technology. We can be reached from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday. Call us today at: (310) 216-3067.

Email all questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu

Start building search engine optimized websites today!

Why should you become an Oracle Certified Associate

As an Oracle Certified Associate, you will cultivate industry-supported skills and credentials that you will be able to transfer to future employment opportunities. With your OCA certification, you will be able to demonstrate and promote the fact that you have the necessary skills to do your job effectively and you are certified by Oracle Corporation the world’s leader in Database Management Systems.

What are the Prerequisites & for OCA

Prior to enrolling for OCA courses the applicants have to know how to use the Microsoft Windows operating system. General knowledge of computer programming and databases will be helpful but not necessarily required.

OCA® Topic Requirements:

SQL Fundamentals I

Program with PL/SQL

SQL Fundamentals I
Oracle routinely publishes new versions of exams, and the passing score across versions may differ.

Oracle Developer/Administrator Certified Associate (OCA)

SQL Fundamental I
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of SQL using Oracle Database 12C database technology, which revolves around the cloud. In this course students learn the concepts of relational databases and the powerful SQL programming language. This course provides the essential SQL skills that allow developers to write queries against single and multiple tables, manipulate data in tables, and create database objects.

The students also learn to use single row functions to customize output, use conversion functions and conditional expressions and use group functions to report aggregated data. Demonstrations and hands-on practice reinforce the fundamental concepts.

In this course, students use Oracle SQL Developer and SQL *Plus as the tool.

Course Objectives:

• Retrieve row and column data from tables with the SELECT statement

• Create reports of sorted and restricted data

• Employ SQL functions to generate and retrieve customized data

• Display data from multiple tables using the ANSI SQL 99 JOIN syntax

• Create reports of aggregated data

•Use the SET operators to create subsets of data

•Run data manipulation statements (DML) to update data in the Oracle Database 12C

•Run data definition language (DDL) statements to create and manage schema objects

• Identify the major structural components of the Oracle Database 12C

Course Topics:

Introduction
•Listing the features of Oracle Database 12C
•Discussing the basic design, theoretical and physical aspects of a relational database
•Describing the development environments for SQL
•Describing Oracle SQL Developer, Describing the data set used by the course

Retrieving Data Using the SQL SELECT Statement

• Listing the capabilities of SQL SELECT statements.

• Generating a report of data from the output of a basic SELECT statement

• Using arithmetic expressions and NULL values in the SELECT statement

• Using Column aliases

• Using concatenation operator, literal character strings, alternative quote operator, and the DISTINCT keyword

• Displaying the table structure using the DESCRIBE command

Restricting and Sorting Data
•Writing queries with a WHERE clause to limit the output retrieved Using the comparison operators and logical operators
•Describing the rules of precedence for comparison and logical operators
•Using character string literals in the WHERE clause
• Writing queries with an ORDER BY clause to sort the output
•Sorting output in descending and ascending order
•Using the Substitution Variables

Using Single-Row Functions to Customize Output
•Differentiating between single row and multiple row functions
•Manipulating strings using character functions
•Manipulating numbers with the ROUND, TRUNC and MOD functions
•Performing arithmetic with date data
•Manipulating dates with the date functions

Using Conversion Functions and Conditional Expressions
•Describing implicit and explicit data type conversion
•Using the TO_CHAR, TO_NUMBER, and TO_DATE conversion functions
•Nesting multiple functions
•Applying the NVL, NULLIF, and COALESCE functions to data
•Using conditional IF THEN ELSE logic in a SELECT statement

Reporting Aggregated Data Using the Group Functions
•Using the aggregation functions in SELECT statements to produce meaningful reports
•Using AVG, SUM, MIN, and MAX function
•Handling Null Values in a group function
•Creating queries that divide the data in groups by using the GROUP BY clause
•Creating queries that exclude groups of date by using the HAVING clause

Displaying Data from Multiple Tables
•Writing SELECT statements to access data from more than one table
•Joining Tables Using SQL:1999 Syntax
•Viewing data that does not meet a join condition by using outer joins
•Joining a table by using a self join
•Creating Cross Joins

Using Sub-queries to Solve Queries
•Using a Subquery to Solve a Problem
•Executing Single-Row Sub-queries
•Using Group Functions in a Sub-query
•Using Multiple-Row Subqueries
•Using the ANY and ALL Operator in Multiple-Row Sub-queries

Using the SET Operators
•Describing the SET operators
•Using a SET operator to combine multiple queries into a single query
•Using UNION, UNION ALL, INTERSECT, and MINUS Operator
•Using the ORDER BY Clause in Set Operations

Manipulating Data
•Adding New Rows to a Table Using the INSERT statement
•Changing Data in a Table Using the UPDATE Statement
•Using DELETE and TRUNCATE Statements
•Saving and discarding changes with the COMMIT and ROLLBACK statements
•Implementing Read Consistency
•Using the FOR UPDATE Clause

Using DDL Statements to Create and Manage Tables
•Categorizing Database Objects
•Creating Tables using the CREATE TABLE Statement Describing the data types
•Describing Constraints
•Creating a table using a subquery
•Altering and Dropping a table

Creating Other Schema Objects
•Creating, modifying, and retrieving data from a view
•Performing Data manipulation language (DML) operations on a view
•Dropping a view
•Creating, using, and modifying a sequence
•Creating and dropping indexes
•Creating and dropping synonyms

ABCO Technology offers a comprehensive program for OCA version 12C. Call our campus today between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. You can reach us at: (310) 216-3067.
Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at 11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304.
Get certified for Oracle database OCA 12C today!

CompTIA Network +, a network Server fast track course in Los Angeles.

The CompTIA Network + is an excellent course for computer repair technicians to learn the theory and application behind a network server.

The network server is the larger computer at a company or in the cloud, which distributes programs to individual computers or workstations. Network servers save both time and money because of their ability to send copies or images of programs to individual computers. Since the client server networking model was adopted in the late 1980s, the idea of a network in organizations large and small became practical.

Computer repair technicians who want to advance networking skills can do so by completing the CompTIA Network + certification. The network + is vender neutral like its’ younger brother, the CompTIA A+, which covers computer repair.

The network + course teaches you how to install, implement and configure a network server. The server can be at your physical location or in the cloud. Holders of the Network + also gain a basic knowledge of network security, which is essential in today’s work environment. the Understanding of the basic operation of a server is a powerful step toward advancing your career in the field of network administration.

The CompTIA Network + is a course, which can be completed in as little as four weeks. Students are encouraged to complete lab assignments, practice exams and participate in class discussions.
Companies both large and small look favorably upon candidates who apply for employment holding both a CompTIA A+ and Network + certification.

The knowledge gained from completing the A+ and Network + certification course will open the door for a candidate to become certified for Cisco Certified Network Associate. Obtaining the Cisco certification on top of the Net + and A+ will qualify you for a position as a junior level network administrator.

ABCO Technology offers comprehensive courses in the fields of network and cyber security. The certifications discussed in this article are important steps for both programs. Call our campus today. You can reach us by telephone at: (310) 216-3067 from 9 Am to 6 PM Monday through Friday.

Email your questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for funding.

ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304.
Get certified for network server operation today!

Turning a 404 error page into a possitive marketing experience

Turning a 404 error page into a positive marketing experience for your customers is unlikely to top your list in terms of digital marketing priorities. However, it’s not something you should overlook or try to rush – especially if your site is frequently changing URLs.

404s (…or four zero fours if you’re in the military) are just another marketing tool – if made correctly.
◾What is a 404?
◾Impact of 404s on SEO
◾What are soft 404s?
◾Helping your user
◾Reporting 404s in Google Analytics
◾Making it fun!

What is a 404?

A 404 is the response code that should be provided by your web server when a user attempts to access a URL that no longer exists/never existed or has been moved without any form of redirection. At an HTTP level the code is also followed by the reason phrase of ‘Not Found’.
It’s important to realize that DNS errors are a totally different kettle of fish and occur when the domain has not been registered or where DNS has been misconfigured. There is no web server to provide a response –

If you’re looking to pass time or have a penchant for intellectual self-harm you may enjoy Googling this list of HTTP status codes, where you can discover the mysterious differences between a 301 and a 308…

Impact of 404s on SEO

We can’t all be blessed with the foresight to develop a well-structured and future-proof site architecture first time around. 404s will happen – whether it’s a new site being tweaked post-launch or a full-blown migration with URL changes, directory updates and a brand spanking new favicon! In themselves, 404s aren’t an issue so long as the content has in fact been removed/deleted without an adequate replacement page.

However, if a URL has links from an external site then you should always consider a redirect to the most appropriate page, both to maintain any equity being passed but also to ensure users who click the linker is not immediately confronted with a potentially negative experience on your site.

What are soft 404s?

Soft 404s occur when a non-existent page returns a response code other than 404 (not found) or the lesser known 410 (gone). They also happen when redirects are put in place that aren’t relevant such as lazily sending users to the homepage or where there is a gross content mismatch from the requested URL and the resulting redirect. These are often confusing for both users and search engines, and are reported within Google Search Console.

Helping the user

Creating a custom 404 page has been all the rage for a number of years, as they can provide users with a smile, useful links or something quite fun (more on this later). Most importantly, it’s crucial that you ensure your site’s 404s aren’t the end of the road for your users. Below are some handy tips for how to improve your 404 page.

Consistent branding

Don’t make your 404 page an orphan in terms of design. Ensure you retain any branding so that users are not shocked into thinking they may be on the wrong site altogether.

Explanation

Make sure you provide users with some potential reasons as to why they are seeing the error page. Stating that the page ‘no longer exists’ etc can help users to understand that the lovely yellow raincoat they expected to find hasn’t actually been replaced by a browser-based Pacman game…

Useful links

You should know which are the most popular pages or directories on your site. Ensure your 404 page includes obvious links to these above the fold so that (coupled with a fast site) users will find the disruption to their journey to be minimal.

Search

There’s a strong chance that a user landing on a 404 page will know why they were on your site; whether for jeans, graphic design or HR software, their intent is likely set. Providing them with a quick search box may enable them to get back on track – this can be useful if you offer a very wide range of services that can’t be covered in a few links.

Reporting

Providing users with the ability to report the inconvenience can be a great way for you to action 404s immediately, especially if the button can be linked to the most common next step in a user’s journey. For example: “Report this page and get back to the shop!”
Turn it into a positive

Providing a free giveaway of a downloadable asset (by way of an apology) is a great way to turn an otherwise-disgruntled user into a lead. By providing a clear CTA and small amount of data capture, you can help to chip away at those inbound marketing goals!

Reporting 404s in Google Analytics

Reporting on 404s in Google Analytics couldn’t be easier. While in many cases your CMS will have plugins and modules that provide this service, GA can do it without much bother. The only thing you’ll need is the page title from your 404 page. In the case of Zazzle this is ‘Page not found | Zazzle Media’.

The screenshot below contains all the information needed. Simply navigate to Customization > Custom Reports > Add New within your GA console.

Title: The name of the custom report

Name: Tabs within the report (you only need one in this case)

Type: Set to Explorer

Metric Groups: Enter ‘Site Usage’ and add in Unique Page Views (to track occurrences per page) and Bounce Rate (to measure how effective your custom 404 page is).

Dimension Drilldowns: Page > Full Referrer (to track where the visit came from if external)

Filters: Include > Page Title > Exact > (your 404 page title)

Views: Select whichever views you want this on (default to all if you’re unsure)

Save and return to Customization > Custom Reports, then click the report you just made. You’ll be presented with a list of pages that match your specified criteria. Simply alter your data range to suit and then export and start mapping any redirects required.

You may wish to use Google Search Console for reporting on 404s too. These can be found under Crawl > Crawl Errors. It’s always worth running these URLs through a tool such as Screaming Frog or Sitebulb to confirm that the live URL is still producing a 404. Exporting these errors is limited to ~1000 URLs; as such, you’ll need to Export > Mark as Fixed > Wait 24hrs > Repeat.

Making a fun 404 page

Some of the best 404 pages throw caution to the wind, ignore best practice and either leverage their brand/character to comical effect or simply go all out and create something fun and interactive. Let’s face it, there is no better way to turn a bad situation (or Monday morning) into something positive than with a quick game of Space Invaders!

The below examples are just a few popular brands that have a great ‘404 game’.

Lego

It was always going to be on the cards that Lego would have something quirky up their tiny plastic sleeves, and while the page lacks ongoing links it provides a clear visual representation of the disconnect between the content you expected and what you’re getting.

Kualo

Behind every great website, there’s a great host. Kualo have taken their very cost-focused industry and made a fun and interactive game for users who happen across a 404 page.

Bit.ly

If there’s one site that has its URLs copy and pasted more than any other (and often incorrectly) it’s bit.ly. With over 1.2 billion backlinks from over 1.8 million referring domains I believe there will be a few 404s…don’t you?

Blizzard

Ding! I’ve naturally lost count of how many times it’s given ‘Grats’ – Blizzard’s quirky 404 gives tribute to the commonly-uttered phrase seen in chat boxes across all their games.

Github

It only seems fitting that one of the geekiest corners of the internet be served with an equally geeky 404 page. Github’s page is unique because there is actually a dedicated URL for this design which has over 520 referring domains itself! Not to mention their server error page is equally as cool.

Summary

Hopefully the information detailed in this article has provided you with a great strategy to leverage your 404 page as a content marketing asset or simply to improve the experience for your user. We’d love to see any creative 404 pages you come up with.

ABCO Technology teaches a comprehensive program for web development. If you want to build high successful web pages, which users engage with, contact ABCO Technology. Reach our campus is easy. ABCO can be reached by telephone from 9 AM to 6PM Monday through Friday at (310) 216-3067.

Email your questions to info@abcotechnology.edu
Financial aid is available to all students who can qualify for federal funding.

ABCO Technology is located at 11222 South Lacienega Blvd. in STE # 588
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304.
Learn to build successful webpages today!

Should you convert your website to HTTPS?

Whether you’re a website owner or simple visitor, everyone wants to experience a fast loading website which can carry out sensitive exchanges of information securely.

In 2014, Google announced that it was beginning to use HTTPS as a ranking signal, signaling an increased emphasis on secure connections from the world’s biggest search engine.

Then, last month, the news came that Google’s Chrome browser will begin displaying a “Not Secure” warning message for unencrypted webpages. This message will be displayed in the address bar of websites not running the HTTPS protocol. Imagine a situation where your visitors withdraw from your website after seeing this warning message.

Google does check whether your site uses HTTP or HTTPS protocol. It might not be a crucial factor if you are not truly serious about your website. However, if you are an online business, this is not something to overlook – website visitors demand secure connections to the websites they are interacting with.

If you aren’t very familiar with the technicalities of SEO, working with HTTPS might seem a bit intimidating. However, it isn’t as complex as it seems to be. Also, the good thing is that you do not have to understand the behind-the-scenes work when it comes to implementing HTTPS.

So, is HTTPS important?

Yes, HTTPS is undoubtedly essential, and many websites have already made the shift.

At the time that HTTPS was announced as a ranking signal, it was only a “light” one and affected less than 1% of global searches. But Google warned that this could strengthen over time, and we have already seen with Mobilegeddon how Google can shake things up once it decides to put emphasis on a particular element of the web.

For a website that has an HTTPS protocol, the search bar in the browser will display a lock symbol, and on Google Chrome, the word “secure”. However, if it isn’t on HTTPS, you won’t see the symbol and users may consequently be more wary about what data they enter – especially if soon, they start to receive a warning about the site’s security.

Exhibit A: Search Engine Watch

Benefits of shifting to HTTPS

Makes your site secure

This is the most obvious benefit of shifting to HTTPS. When you are enforcing HTTPS on your site, you are guaranteeing that the information passed between the client and the server can neither be stolen nor intercepted. It is basically a kind of proof that the client’s data wouldn’t be tampered with in any form.

This is great for sites that need the customers to log in and accept payments through credit or debit cards.

Encryption

Okay, so if someone even does manage to intercept it, the data would be completely worthless to them. In case you are wondering why, it is because they obviously wouldn’t have the key to decrypt it. As website owners, you would have the key to do so.

Authentication

You must have heard of middleman attacks. However, with HTTPS, it is close to impossible for anyone to trick your customers and make them think that they are providing their personal information to you, when in reality they are providing this to a scammer. This is where an SSL certificate comes into light.

Good for your site’s SEO

You definitely want your site to rank higher in the search engine results and HTTPS would contribute to doing that. With your site ranking higher, you would have more customers, an increased traffic and an improvement in your overall revenue. It’s not just us saying that – Google said so itself!

Now that you know all of its benefits, let’s look into the steps that you need to follow.

Getting an SSL certificate

SSL is the protocol that HTTPS uses and is something that you need to install. The SSL certificate would have your company name, domain name, address, country, state and your city. Several details including the expiry date of the certificate would also be mentioned here. Now, there are three different kinds of certificates that you can choose from.

Organization Validation and Domain Validation are the kind of certificates that you can get if you have an e-commerce site or a site that collects personal information from users. The third type, Extended Validation Certificates, are for testifying the legal terms of a HTTPS website.

You can purchase these certificates from a lot of websites. The prices differ, so compare them and then make a purchase. Once you have purchased one, get it installed.

Create your site’s URL map and redirect

The ‘S’ in HTTPS makes a huge difference in the URL. HTTP or HTTPS before your domain name are entirely different URLs. This implies that you would have to create copies of each and every page on your site and then redirect them. This redirection would be from your old HTTP page to the new HTTPS page.

It might all sound pretty complicated, but it isn’t in reality. Your URL map can just be a simple spreadsheet. When shifting from WordPress, all of the 301 (permanent) redirects can simply be added to the .htaccess file.

Work on getting at least one page working on the front end

You also have to work on getting your front end on HTTPS. If you’re not confident with the technical side of things, this can seem a little complicated. Therefore it is best to begin with just one page.

If you are an ecommerce site, you can begin with the page that accepts payments. This is the page where customers are sharing their personal banking details and therefore it has to be secure. There are several plugins available that can help you with this, such as WP Force SSL. With such plugins, you can easily force pages to be SSL.

Update internal links, images and other links

There will be several internal links throughout your site and these might redirect to your old HTTP page. If you have been using relative links, you have been lucky. However, if not, you would have to find each of the links and then correct it with the new URL. You would also need to correct links to other resources like stylesheets, images and scripts.

Also, if you use a content delivery network (CDN), you would need to make sure that the CDN supports HTTPS too. These days most CDNs support HTTPS, but not all of them. So, make sure that you check that too.

Re-add your site to Google Search Console

After you have made all the necessary changes, get Google crawling on it as soon as possible. If you don’t do it, your traffic would be affected negatively. But why is re-adding required? Well, it’s because an HTTPS site is considered a completely different and new site.

After that, submit your new sitemap in your new listing and above that, re-submit the old sitemap as Google will notice the 301 redirects and make the necessary updates.

Once you have carried out all of the steps, you may or may not notice a slight positive change in the search rankings. Whatever you do, make sure that the first step of installing an SSL certificate has been done correctly. Alternatively, you can also use plugins like Really Simple SSL, Easy HTTPS Redirection etc. to accomplish the task.

At the end of the day, the decision of switching to HTTPS is solely yours. If you just have a blog with an email newsletter that people can subscribe to, you might not need to make the switch. However, if you are an online business, switching to HTTPS would be a wise decision.

If you see some issues, keep researching and fixing them. Even if you’re not a technical person, it’s easier than you think.
ABCO Technology teaches a comprehensive program for web development. You will learn how to use SSL and many other exciting technologies. If a web development career interests you, contact ABCO Technology. Reaching our campus by telephone is easy. Call us between 9 AM and 6 PM, Monday through Friday. Call today at: (310) 216-3067.
Please email all questions to: info@abcotechnology.edu
ABCO Technology is located at:
11222 South La Cienega Blvd. in STE #588.
Los Angeles, Ca. 90304.
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