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Client Infographic: LoanMart

Who doesn’t love the adrenaline rush of an exciting action movie with a car chase? Millions of dollars are spent, and countless cars get destroyed to create the nail biting, tire screeching, fast action car chases that we love. These orchestrated chase scenes are intended to recreate real life drama, and sometimes the chase that actually happened is much more exciting.

LoanMart’s new Infographic displays the toll not only for set produced car chases, but real life ones as well. Find out how long the police chased OJ, and what his average speed was during the pursuit. Can you guess which movie destroyed the most cars in movie history? Take a look to find out…




Check out the Infographic in its entirety to find out more interesting facts!

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A Smattering of SEO News: 5/28/13

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of A Smattering of SEO News. A lot of important stuff happened last week, so it’s good that we had a three-day weekend to recover from it all. The big news is that Penguin 2.0 hit Google, and while we’re still studying its effects, we hope that none of your sites were adversely affected by this significant algorithm shift. With that said, let’s dive into the news!

Google News:Penguin-2.0

  • Penguin 2.0 Goes Live – Matt Cutts personally announced the release of Penguin 2.0, the fourth update in the Penguin series of algorithm updates, which went live on May 22nd. Apparently 2.3% of English queries in the US are affected, and we already have reactions from large sites such as Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land as to what the changes are and how to react to them. This version apparently will go deeper and be more comprehensive in finding webspam. It might also be targeting advetorials and other linking techniques meant to be only passing PageRank. Beyond that, we don’t have many details at the moment. Google has also launched a spam report form to report spammy sites that were unaffected by Penguin 2.0. The biggest losers so far appear to be porn and gaming sites, as well as larger sites like and, according to
  • Google to Revise Domain Clustering Rules Again – In a recent video, Google’s Matt Cutts said they would soon be releasing further revisions to their search results in regards to multiple domains showing up for the same result. This new change will further restrict how many pages can show up in the SERPs, limiting it to around four at most, if not less.
  • Top Charts Launched in Google Trends – There’s a new feature in Google Trends that shows the top searches in various categories since 2004. Covering over forty categories, the charts also show where a top search peaked, how long it’s been on the chart and it’s position chance since the previous. Sections include actors, animals, scientists, baseball teams and more broken down categories such as entertainment, shopping and sports.
  • Google Launches Conversational Search – Google rolled out its conversational search engine this past week, which is now available through Chrome. This search functionality allows you to do a verbal query, and then continue on a path with that query in a conversational matter, having Google recognize the conversational format. An example could be to search, “How old is Barack Obama?” When you can get your results, you can then ask “How tall is he?” or “Who is his wife?”, and get results related to “he” and “his”, which is pretty fascinating.
  • Changes to Google Maps UI Could Be Worrisome to Local Businesses – Search Engine Land has been able to spend some time with the new beta version of Google Maps/Google Local, and are concerned about what they see. The new, more visual results appear to give more visibility to the top ranked results while maintaining a “bias” toward “address-less” businesses.

Yahoo News:

  • Yahoo Acquires Tumblr for $1.1 Billion – Last week, Yahoo announced it was buying the popular microblogging website Tumblr. Yahoo claims this purchase will benefit both companies, but many who use Tumblr regularly are up in arms about what changes the tech giant might bring to the platform.
  • Yahoo Apparently Testing New Search Results Page – Search Engine Land reported that they stumbled upon the new version of Yahoo’s search engine results page, which sports a cleaner look with smaller buttons, a new navigation menu and cleaner pagination. Many of these changes are minor, but they add up to what appear to be a much more visually appealing page.

Bing News:

  • Bing Ads Debuts Traffic Quality Resource Center – Microsoft recently announced the launch of the Bing Ads Traffic Quality Resource Center, which gives webmasters an insight into how Bing and Yahoo protect the quality of its ad traffic. The site has sections on terminology, network protection methods and more.
  • Bing Adds Klingon Language to Translator – Bing recently added two variations of the Klingon language to its translator website. One version shows the translation in an English approximation, while the other version shows the translation in the original Klingon written language.

See you again next week with your SEO news update!

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Client Infographic: American Trainco

The world of engineering is a constantly evolving field. All types of gadgets from science fiction are quickly becoming a reality. Watches, telephones, computers and cameras have morphed into a single instrument; the cell phone. There is a lot of work that goes into creating new technology, and some new creations seem too fantastical to be real.

American Trainco’s new Infographic, ‘Spectacular Feats of Modern Engineering’ takes a look at some structures that blur the line between science fiction and reality.




Check out the Infographic in its entirety to see what it took to successfully create these amazing structures.

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Google Will Make This A Summer You Will Never Forget

When we think of summer, we envision children playing in pools, beach BBQs and much-needed family vacations. But, for webmasters, the summer may become anything but bright, sun-filled and cheery.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, released a video that details what Google is planning for the next few months. And although some of these changes may boost webmasters’ sites, anytime Google makes BIG changes, someone inadvertently loses their shirt.

Should you be worried?

According to Cutts, what he often states in many media outlets… if you create high quality content and a valuable user experience for visitors, you shouldn’t really be focused on Google’s changes and how they can impact your site.

But, I am sure the thousands of webmasters who lost their rankings and their income after Panda and Penguin would beg to differ.

The primary question asked of Cutts was, “What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?”

Here is a rundown of the changes as summarized by Matt Cutts…

Penguin 2.0

Penguin 1.0 was the “macdaddy” of all Google updates. It sent thousands of webmasters into a panicked state.

If you were a fly on the wall of the Google forums around April to July of last year, you will recall the surge of people complaining about their lost rankings as a result of Google Penguin. It was like an all out war on Google.

To summarize, Penguin dealt specifically with over-optimization, whether on site or in links. It downgraded sites for over-optimizing link anchor text and using any other technique to manipulate Google rankings.

Penguin 2.0 is on its way and it will rival Penguin 1.0. According to Cutts, Penguin 2.0 will be more comprehensive and it will go deeper than Penguin 1.0 which means it will impact more sites.

The silver lining? 

Some sites experienced an increase in their rankings after Google Penguin. You don’t hear about these sites often because who would want to wave a piece of meat in front of a den of hungry lions? Would you gloat about your positive boost in a forum of complaining webmasters out to sue Google?

If you follow Google’s webmaster guidelines, there is a good chance you will notice a positive boost in your rankings once Penguin 2.0 launches. Someone has to fill the spots of the websites that lose rankings… and it might as well be you.


Cutts spoke specifically about advertorials that violate Google’s quality guidelines.

If you pay for ads, they should not pass PageRank. Whenever you advertise, your links should be nofollow so you do not float PageRank or earn any organic ranking success from the links. If you do, Google could penalize you—no matter how popular you are.

The well-known flower delivery website in the UK, Interflora, was penalized in February for doing some form of this and they lost their page one rankings instantly once Google discovered their “suspect” practices.

According to Cutts, you cannot pay for rankings. They are earned. They should also have clear disclosure that they are paid ads so users realize they are not editorial in nature.

Better Spam Detection

Google is getting more serious about detecting spammy queries. In the video, Cutts offered the example keyword “payday loans” and mentioned pornographic searches. Because of the input Google receives from webmasters who complain about these types of queries, Google has made a decision to take a closer look.

Link spammers beware! It seems like Google is getting even more sophisticated at detecting spammy links. I predict that by the end of the summer many existing blog networks that have remained under the radar will feel the sting of a new Google paradigm.

Cutts said Google is working on improving their link analysis and it is in the early stages of developing a more sophisticated system for link analysis. Though this system is still in the early stages, we will continue to see more changes as Google dedicates its time to deterring link spammers and devaluing spammy and low quality, forced links.

Tip: Never use automated tools to acquire links. These tools most likely take advantage of blog or site networks and if you use them, you will have no control over your link profile. Nothing good can come of this—especially since Google is getting smarter. Acquire links naturally via creating link-worthy content and reaching out to partner with organizations and blogs who want to publish your valuable content.

The Last Shall Be First?

Google is shifting its focus on what Cutts calls “regular webmasters.”

These webmasters may run a site that is not necessarily a large budget brand, but it is an authority in its industry. According to Cutts, Google is doing a better job of detecting when someone is an authority in a space and trying to rank those sites a little higher. The changes coming will help small/medium businesses as well as “regular webmasters” gain a little more ground in the rankings.

Panda Recovery

Were you hit by Panda? Still haven’t fully recovered? There may be hope for you.

If your site falls into what Cutts calls the “gray area,” you may see a boost in rankings during the next few months. These “gray area” sites have been affected by Panda, but they also display additional signs of quality. For these sites, the changes coming will soften the effects of Panda and help those previously affected.

Additional Changes

Cutts also mentioned better detection for hacked sites and an increase in communication transparency between Google and webmasters. Also, Google will work on improving the search pages as it relates to clusters of results. If you see a cluster of results from one site, you would be less likely to see results from that same site as you search deeper into the next pages.

Are these changes set in stone?

Not at all. Cutts said this is just a rough snapshot of what is to come but Google can change the plans at any time. In fact, he said to take them with a “grain of salt.” How’s that for a disclaimer?

If I were a betting woman (and I’m not), I would put my money on Penguin 2.0 as being a sure thing—to be launched sooner, rather than later. And then the obliteration of more link networks will soon follow.

What do you think? Are you concerned/curious about the next round of Google changes?

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A Smattering of SEO News: 5/20/13

Hello, and welcome to the Smattering of SEO News for the week ending May 17th! There was even more than the usual amount of Google news in the last week, due to both the I/O conference and other newsworthy happenings, as well as some good news for Bing. Let’s get to it.

Google NewsGoogle-Penguin

  • Matt Cutts Details Upcoming Google Algorithm Changes – In a  recent video, Matt Cutts detailed ten changes we would be seeing from Google in the coming months that would seriously affect SEO efforts. These include the next major version of Penguin (being labeled Penguin 2.0), a stronger stance against advertorials, stronger targeting of link spammers and a softening of Panda. We will definitely have to keep an eye out on these changes in the coming months.
  • Polls Claim Only Small Number of Sites Recovered from Penguin – In an informal poll taken on Search Engine Roundtable, respondents were asked if their site had recovered from the big Penguin update which hit a year ago. Out of over 500 responses, only 9% of respondents claimed to have a full recovery, while 61% recorded no recovery, 18% said they partially recovered and 12% said they
    weren’t affected at all.
  • Google Wants to Understand Multiple Types of Authorship – During a panel at a recent SMX conference, engineer Matt Cutts was asked if Google planned to expand authorship beyond written content. Cutts responded by saying while most content is written, Google does want to understand other types of content for which authorship applies. For example, the author of the article at Search Engine Land found that authorship applies to PDF files now, so with the growth of services like YouTube and Pinterest, might videos and pictures be next?
  • Google Takes Manual Action Against Several Thousand Linksellers – In a recent tweet by Matt Cutts, he said, “In fact, we took action on several thousand linksellers in a paid-link-that-passes-PageRank network earlier today.” The link network wasn’t specified, and while this was a manual action, it would not be surprising if upcoming algorithm changes also targeted these kinds of linksellers.
  • German Court Orders Google to Block Libelous Words in Autocomplete Searches – In an odd turn of events, a German court overturned the ruling of two lower courts and says Google now must block autocomplete entries that could be seen as libelous. The owner of an unnamed nutritional supplements company, for which autocomplete entries for this company included words such as “fraud” and “Scientology”, brought this case. A Google spokesperson said it’s “incomprehensible” that Google should be held accountable for the searches of its users, which they can’t control.
  • Google to Launch Conversational Voice Search called “OK Google” – At Google I/O, it debuted the next version of its voice search called “OK Google”. This update will allow you to have a conversation of sorts with Google. For example, if you say, “OK Google, what’s the weather like in San Francisco?”, it will vocally tell you. If you then ask, “How far is it from here?”, it will tell you the distance to San Francisco from where you are, as it understands where “here” is contextually. This will be available on the desktop and mobile devices eventually.
  • Google Reports 82% of In-Store Shoppers Use Mobile Search to Make Buying Decisions – In a recent report, Google stated that 82% of users use mobile search to begin the process of buying a product, rather than using shopping apps or going to a brand’s website. The survey said 1 in 3 respondents also used mobile search rather than speaking to a store’s sales associate, and 53% of users use search to make price comparisons before a purchase. This data is similar to that in other recent reports showing a higher use of mobile search while making purchasing decisions.

In other SEO news…

  • Bing Rises Above 17% of Search Market Share in April for First Time – According to comScore’s April 2013 qSearch report, they reported that Bing’s share of the search market grew to 17.3% (up from 16.9% in March), passing 17% for the first time. Google’s share of the market dropped to 66.5% in April from 67.1% in March. Yahoo also saw a slight increase, up to 12% from 11.8% in March.
  • Delaware Least Likely State to Use Google, Yahoo Used More in Southern & Midwestern States – In a recent study by WebpageFX, it studied 35 million queries across all fifty states and found Google had a +70% market share in every state except Delaware, where it had a 69.49% market share. Google was used most in Hawaii, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington D.C. and Colorado. Bing was used most in North Dakota, with 14.68% of the market share there. Arkansas was the state that used Yahoo most, with 11.69% market share, and was followed by Oklahoma, West Virginia and Ohio.

Did you hear any other SEO news that you thought was relevant last week? Feel free to comment below. And I’ll see you again next week!

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Photoshop Portrait Retouching – 5 Tips For Beginners

Lately, as Wpromote’s lead graphic designer, I’ve gotten a lot of requests from coworkers to teach them how to remove a pimple, wrinkle or under eye circle in Photoshop. While generally I don’t like to change someone’s unique and distinguishing features, there are a few easy methods that will make your photo (and your face) shine just a little bit brighter.

I’m starting with this photo of a woman:


I don’t know her name or who she is but she looks like an Emily to me.  She’s got a few issues here: piercing scars, a little acne, some under eye circles and some fine wrinkles.  First things first, duplicate the background layer and work off of the copy. Now lets get to it!

1. Spot Healing Brush

This tool is awesome for beginners; its easy to use and the results are great. Find the tool that looks like a Band-Aid, just make sure it says “Spot Healing Brush Tool” when you hover over it, or use the keyboard shortcut J. Adjust the brush size by right clicking or opening up the panel at the top left of the screen. You will generally want to set your brush about the size of the elements you are removing.

Use the brush to click and paint over your blemishes… yeah, it’s really that easy! If you need to zoom in to see more detail, use the command + and command – shortcuts for zooming. I try not to get too carried away; I like to leave freckles and moles so I don’t change the person’s appearance completely. After you finish healing your pimples… feel free to “heal” any other things that stand out to you.  I’m going to go in now and remove those extra eyebrow hairs sprouting up, fine lines and some of the larger pores on her nose with the same method. And like magic, Emily’s face is clear!


2. Dodge Tool

I use this tool to quickly brighten the whites of the eyes and whiten any yellow or discolored teeth. Don’t go overboard (like everything else in this post), or she’ll start looking artificial. Choose the Dodge tool, which is the one that looks kind of like a lollipop. Once you have this selected, make sure to set your Range to Midtones and your Exposure to 10% at the top left of the screen.  You can adjust your brush size by right clicking or changing it using the panel at the top left of the screen as well. Paint over the whites of the eye. Now, Emily has a pretty big brown spot in her eye that the dodge tool couldn’t brighten enough. This is when the Spot Healing Brush comes in handy again. Your photo should now look something like this:


3. Clone Stamp Tool

This tool is a little trickier, but worth it once you see the outcome.  Since Emily has some dark circles under her eyes, we’re going to want to lighten these. Select your Clone Stamp Tool – it looks like a hand stamp. Adjust the settings for size (right click) and you’ll want your brush size close to the size of her pupil, make sure your hardness is somewhere between 20-60% and set your opacity around 10%. Lastly, set the Mode to Lighten. Now it gets a bit tricky. Choose an area on her cheek that has a nice skin tone, hold down option and click on that area. Now move your brush directly up to her under eye and start painting.  Repeat with the 2nd eye, now your photo should look something like this:


4. Burn Tool

The burn tool is great for bringing more contrast back into the photo by darkening things that might have gotten too light in the process. I usually like to use it subtly on the lips and eyebrows. Select your burn tool. It is in the same area as the Dodge tool, click on the icon for a second or two and the Burn tool should drop down as an option – it looks like a hand making an “O” shape. Set the Range to Midtones and your Exposure to 10%. Start painting the lips, especially if the lips are not well defined, make sure to get the outlines good. Again, I notice a small blemish on her lip, so I’ll use the Spot Healing Brush to fix it.  Do the same burning on her eyebrows until it looks good.  I might even go in and darken up her lash line since we lost a little definition when we got rid of the eye circles. After seeing her lips darkened a bit, I decided to go back in with the Dodge tool to bring in a highlight on the lower lip, leaving the image like this:


5. Blur Tool

The blur tool is great for those tiny finishing touches that aren’t necessarily a blemish or wrinkle but have a little more texture than you’d like.  Choose the blur tool, which is the one that looks like a little rain drop and make sure your Mode is on Normal and set the Strength to around 20%. Adjust the size of your brush depending on the size of the area you’re working on and start blurring.


There you go! You should have ended up with a natural looking, retouched photo. She still looks like herself, don’t you think? Feel free to ask any questions in the comment area below or if you have any unique retouching methods feel free to share!

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3 SEO Takeaways from SMX West 2013

This last week saw the 2013 Search Marketing Expo come and go. With speakers like Matt Cutts and Duane Forester, you can be sure there were a multitude of interesting forums that covered pertinent industry updates. While there is a wealth of information to be gleaned from a conference as prominent as SMX West, here are three major game changers that can contribute to the overall success of a website.


In 2011, I urged that you must not ignore and that early adopters would see the biggest return.  Well it’s been nearly two years since’s big debut at SMX Advanced 2011 and guess what…it’s is only becoming more evolved, more powerful, and a more important tactic to having content stand out effectively in search results.  Here are some really cool types of schema markups that are being used by savvy SEO-minded webmasters:

Recipes with Reviews:

Schema Markup recipe review


Music Events:

schema markup music events


Authorship (AOL Ranking for “Getting a Job at Google”):

schema markups authorship

In the past, there were many conflicting markups, vocabularies, and syntaxes when it came to microdata. Google and Bing are making a coordinated effort to use as the uniform markup language, syntax and vocabulary. The good news is that Good Relations, which is a notable markup vocabulary used on many ecommerce sites, is planning to fully integrate to the core so there shouldn’t be any need to do a massive overhaul of any previously implemented markup.



Up until October of 2011, SEOs were basically spoon-fed invaluable data from Google Analytics. That all changed when Google decided they were going to “protect” the data of users signed into their Gmail accounts and Google+ accounts.  As a result, Not Provided began appearing in our Google Analytics data.  While it was a mildly roadblock for us SEOs, most of us weren’t kicking up too much of a fuss, mostly because we were still getting more than enough data to make educated decisions on which keywords to use when optimizing sites.

Then in 2012, Google extended their “privacy protection policy” to all users of the Google search toolbar, regardless if they were signed into a Google account.  Not Provided data began to skyrocket.  Many SEO’s have been faced with the challenge of finding the necessary information in order to be effective.

This ever-increasing loss of data was an undeniably very humbling moment for us SEOs. One adjustment suggested was to begin taking steps away from using ranking reports.  A an SEO at an agency, I really don’t know how we can ever fully get away from ranking reports altogether.  Clients might not need them, but they definitely utilize and want them.  So how do you minimize the importance of ranking reports, which for so long have been the building block upon which we rationalize the need for our services? One good idea thrown out there was to make keyword strategy less about non-branded keywords and more about developing a brand that identifies with a product type or service.  Zappos does this with shoes.  Jacuzzi does this with spas. Pampers with baby diapers. The wonderful thing is that even if you’re a company with a small advertising budget for branding, you can make use of your social media profiles to get your content and name out there, which segues me to my last takeaway – REL=Authorship and Social Media.



Matt Cutts, the head of Webspam at Google, and his counterpart at Bing, Duane Forrester, both consented that their respective search engines are really studying how search results are affected by authoritative and influential person’s/brands/communities content.  The rel=author tags are important for two reasons.  First, It allows companies to verify all their Google+, which gives Google better insight to the communities you are part of and where you exist online.  Secondly, the tag creates off portal to all a user’s previously written content (see below).  Based on the social mentions that your content receives and its connection to various branded social profiles, Google can begin to really understand how authoritative you are to your various circles.


Responsive Web Design” was another buzzword regularly spoken by these two panelists.  With the advent of smartphones and tablets, search is being conducted on many non-desktop devices.  Having a site that can respond to the various devices will be crucial to improving behavioral metrics (time spent on a page, bounce rate, conversions) associated with improved rankings.

 Here’s an example of Wpromote when the site is opened on a desktop browser.  Now see how it’s design layout changes as you make the browser window the size of mobile browser.

wpromote responsive web design

responsive mobile wpromote design

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A Content Marketers Guide to Google Operators (Cheat Sheet)

The best tricks of any trade are the ones that enable you to do a job in a shorter amount of time than it would have taken you if you hadn’t known those tricks.

In other words, any capable professional in any specific business has one or two tricks up their sleeve that enable them to make their jobs (and thus, their lives) easier. And being a search marketer is not any different. In fact one of the first things any good marketer who works in the SEO or content marketing space should familiarize themselves with is the use of basic Google operators so they can drill down into a website with a minimal amount of third party tools.

For example: if you wanted to quickly and easily tell a person how many pages of their website are in the google index and how they are being displayed you would simply punch this simple command into google:

and Google would hand you back something like so:


A working knowledge of Google operators is useful for everyone who operates in the online space. From public relations professionals looking for specific journalists, to SEO professionals checking indexation, to content marketers looking to take inventory of how big a conversation is online, these are extremly useful little commands and they can make your life a lot easier if you know how to use them.

It was for just that reason that we’ve put together a cheat sheet of our favorite Google operators that we use on a day-to-day basis here at Wpromote, and even some real world applications that you can apply to your business or marketing efforts if you are so inclined.


Like this? Why bother bookmarking it? Seriously, just copy this code and put it on your own site.


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A Smattering of SEO News – 5/13/13

Hey folks, welcome to the Smattering of SEO News for the week ending May 10th. There was a lot of news from Google this past week, but also some search-related news from Yahoo, which we’ve not seen for quite some time. Enjoy!

Google News

  • Google Analytics Now Offers Real-Time Goal Conversion Report – Google Analytics now offers the ability to see real-time conversion goals, and can be sorted by number of conversions and drilled down to specific segments. Computed engagement goals aren’t available in real-time, however, and are still found in the standard reports.


  • Possible Google Update Underway – According to webmasters on Webmaster World and elsewhere, they’re noticing significant shifts in the SERPS for their tracked keywords, denoting an update might be underway. Hopefully we’ll learn more in the coming days.
  • Don’t Worry Too Much about Google Patents, Says Cutts – In a recent video, Matt Cutts said that there are “a lot of interesting ideas” in regards to patents, and while there is a lot of stuff in patents usually acquired by Google, “don’t take it as an automatic golden truth that we are doing any particular thing mentioned in a patent.”
  • YouTube Could Launch Premium Channels – According to a report in the Financial Times, YouTube will soon launch premium channels requiring a monthly subscription that could start at $1.99 a month. In response to the report, YouTube told Mashable that they are indeed “looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users.” No word on when this service will launch, however.
  • Press Release Links Do Work in Google, According to Test – According to a story on Search Engine Land, Daniel Tan created a press release with a link pointing to Matt Cutts’ blog using the anchor text, “leasreepressmm”, to test Cutts’ notion that press release links don’t work. A few days later, Cutts’ blog indeed did show up in a search for that particular term, putting to question the notion that those links aren’t worthwhile.
  • Google Wins in German Antitrust Case – In a case brought on by German weather group Verband Deutscher Wetterdienstleister, in which it claimed Google placed its own weather results well above that of the group’s in search listings, the group argued many of the same search bias complaints brought on by other groups in recent months. The court rejected those arguments, saying the group was using the court case as a shield against market competition. This could have an impact in other, similar cases across Europe and the rest of the world.

Yahoo News

  • Microsoft Extends Revenue Guarantee to Yahoo for One More Year – Microsoft has extended it’s revenue guarantee for Yahoo involving U.S. search for one more year, marking Yahoo’s first new agreement since CEO Marissa Mayer took over in July of last year.
  • Yahoo Attempting to End Search Deal with Microsoft – In 2010, Microsoft and Yahoo entered into a ten-year search deal. However, according to Bloomberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been striving to end the deal, even meeting with former employer Google to discuss an alternate search partnership. However, the partnership can only be called off if Microsoft sells or closes Bing, or if Yahoo’s search revenue falls below 40% of Google’s.

In other SEO news…

  • Tool Uses Twitter Data to Measure Mood of U.S. – A tool entitled measures what’s being said on Twitter to monitor the mood of the United States using the prevalence of specific words in people’s Tweets. It checks 500 words to test happiness or sadness, and goes back to 2008. The happiest days have been Christmas for the last four years, while the saddest day was this past April 15th, which was the day that the Boston Marathon bombings occurred.
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Extra! Extra! Read All About It… On Twitter?

Where do you first hear about breaking news? 

Your local news station? Twitter and Facebook?

If you polled a cross-section of today’s “everyday” social media user, many would tell you that they hear about breaking news in one of two ways…

1. Twitter Feeds or Trending Stories – Twitter displays the top stories as they occur, or the stories that become the most popular whether via tweeting or re-tweeting.

Here is a look at Twitter’s current trending topics as of 8:40 PST, May 7, 2013:


Users watch this info intently waiting for popular topics to surface.

2.  Facebook News Feed – Facebook users read news from their friends’ posts in their newsfeeds. A quick “share” can spread this information rather quickly.

Remember these top headlines?

Quite a few headlines broke on social media sites before popular offline media outlets could even put pen to paper.

  • Whitney Houston’s Death – Broke on Twitter 27 minutes before press
  • Osama Bin Laden’s Death – A next door neighbor tweeted about the noise and didn’t realize it was the raid on Osama bin Laden
  • Hudson River Plane Crash – Broke on Twitter
  • Announcement of the Royal Wedding – Broke on Twitter

While social media serves as a platform for people to receive trending news—and fast—it can also become a double-edged sword.

The recent devastation that occurred in Boston had people rapidly sharing the news on Facebook and Twitter within seconds of the explosions. According to a Pew Research Center study, more than half of a subgroup made up of 18 to 29-year-old young adults turned to social media to find out more information about this catastrophic event.

Think about it… it’s kind of hard not to discover breaking news on social sites, especially if you frequent Facebook or Twitter daily from your desktop or mobile device. Avid social media users check the sites more than a few times a day and some are constant lurkers.

So what’s wrong with social media sites breaking news first?


Though social media can break news faster than any popular news outlet, it can also be the bearer of false information, and even worse, be used as a source for popular news outlets.

According to an article in USA Today, both the Associated Press and CNN reported false information gathered from social sites about the Boston bombing suspects being in custody. Seeing AP report the news, a local news station in Boston, along with other media outlets also re-tweeted the false information and it spread virally.

And yet another incident…

How would you like it if your missing son was accused of the bombings even though he was innocent?

Reddit had to apologize to the family after publishing information that a missing Brown University student was a bombing suspect. The misinformation prompted online searches and cast speculation, all because of one tweet that could have been thwarted with a few more minutes of research. The family had to cease their efforts of finding their son because so many people had accused him of being one of the Boston bombing suspects.

The Race

In a race to be the first to disseminate information, it seems as if the “need to be the forerunner” has taken precedence over facts. Because breaking information spreads so fast on social media sites, news outlets cannot compete, and as a result, some publish false information and do more harm than good.

This misinformation is also dangerous for law enforcement who are using social content to help their efforts.

The Boston Police Department relied heavily on Twitter during the investigation and even tweeted the capture of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as it occurred in real time.

According to CNET senior editor, Dan Ackerman, “When you have a developing news story you look to Twitter because you can get a lot of information from different sources at the same time,” he explained. “You have a real-time feed of TV, local stations, and newspapers.”

On the flip side, Ackerman also realizes the risk involved when people “in high places” use Twitter to source information that can affect the outcome of an investigation.

Ackerman explains days after the bombing, “There’s a huge risk. We saw that earlier this week when we had some wrong people identified and people on the internet thought they were doing the right thing, but then you end up with somebody with their face on the New York Post and it’s not the right guy and you’re losing time and damaging people who are totally innocent.”

The Silver Lining

Though social media can prompt news outlets to publish false information, the sites have also become a platform for people to share their stories in hopes of gaining support from others.

I find it so amazing when I hear how ordinary people who have never even met can unite for a cause greater than themselves. Social sites have given people the opportunity to band together across race, nationality and social status, and fight for a common cause… the good of humanity.

Meet the Corcoran Family…


I read an article this week that touched me deeply. It was about the Corcoran family who was tragically affected by the Boston bombings. Celeste and Sydney Corcoran were cousins who had planned to meet an aunt as she crossed the finish line. The bombs exploded a few feet from where they were standing and as a result, the cousins suffered major injuries. Sydney experienced massive blood loss and injuries to her legs and Celeste had both legs amputated.

The family banded together and started a fundraiser to raise money for the girls’ medical journey ahead. A cousin started an account on GoFundMe, hoping to raise $20,000. She shared it on Facebook and since then the account has exploded to $725,315.00.


These courageous women have more medical treatment ahead but the love and generosity from complete strangers has astounded them and put smiles on their faces.

The world may be getting bigger, but with the aid of social media sites and the good old human heart of compassion, the power of human touch is making the world much smaller, a place where meaningful connection is no more than a tweet away.

See this page for information on the online fundraising events for the Boston bombing victims: 8 Campaigns Helping Boston Victims and Their Families

Do you trust the “facts” the news outlets publish? Where did you first find out about the Boston bombing?