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Guardian launches @GuardianTagBot – which auto answers questions

October 27th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Search, Social media and blogging

The Guardian has launched @GuardianTagBot, a Twitter account that answers your questions by returning links to Guardian content.

I tested it by tweeting the word halloween’and in less than one minute received a tweet with links to 30 stories.

It works as it is linked to the Guardian’s content API.

In a post introducing @GuardianTagBot, “your new Twitter-based search assistant”, the Inside the Guardian Blog explains:

TagBot will try its best to understand full sentence queries e.g. ‘What’s happening in the Middle East?’ but it will probably respond best to more specific search-style terms like ‘Middle East news‘, or ‘Nigel Slater recipes‘. TagBot might get confused if you are asking for news on Jordan the country rather than the latest antics of Katie Price, so you might want to be as clear as possible! Of course you can swear at TagBot too, but you might make it sad. TagBot will also struggle with personal requests like ‘Will you marry me?’. It’s not Siri.

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Google launches What Do You Love search

Google certainly has no shortage of services around the web, and its latest stab at social networking in the form of Google+ has been creating a greater buzz than the lukewarm reception of Google Buzz when it launched in February 2010.

Also released with rather less fanfare is What Do You Love, a simple search tool that returns results from more than 20 Google services.

The site offers search in images, alerts, YouTube, books and maps among others, and renders the results on one page.

For example, a search for “journalism” gives you an option to find books about journalism, translate “journalism” into 57 different languages, call someone about journalism with Google Voice or search through related Blogger articles.

You can share the results via Gmail, Buzz or +1, but no third party sharing tools such as Facebook or Twitter are available.

The site is currently very unpolished – at the moment many of the results aren’t particularly accurate or helpful, but this may well improve with time.

For the moment it offers a nice idea that may return better results based on more specific keywords. In future it could also help with collecting a variety of content from different services about a single topic, rather than having to go through each site’s native search engine.

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Reporters to get author pages with Google’s new authorship markup

June 9th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Search, Traffic

On its official blog this week Google announced it was to start supporting “authorship markup — a way to connect authors with their content on the web”. According to the post this will enable websites to publicly link within their site from content to author pages.

For example, if an author at the New York Times has written dozens of articles, using this markup, the webmaster can connect these articles with a New York Times author page. An author page describes and identifies the author, and can include things like the author’s bio, photo, articles and other links.

According to Google it has worked with sites including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNET and the New Yorker, prior to the launch of the markup to help get them set up. The markup will also been added to everything hosted by YouTube and Blogger, Google added.

For a more detailed description of how authorship works see the neat description below by the Search Engine Journal:

Sites that have large portions of content written by a specific author can denote the author of each piece of content and can specify the author’s page on the site. The author page can then include markup that specifies what select data on the page is. Google can then display portions of the specified data from the search engine results page, giving direct links to the author’s page, other content from the same writer, and other pages that belong to the same author (such as social sites).

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Twitter adds new search and photo sharing options

Twitter has enabled a new search option for those with using the most up-to-date Firefox browser. By adding the Twitter address bar search you can now search for a hashtag or @username by using the address bar where you would usually enter a site’s URL.

Twitter has also announced that it has partnered with Photobucket and will be launching a photo sharing option in the coming weeks.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be releasing a feature to upload a photo and attach it to your tweet right from Twitter.com. And of course, you’ll soon be able to easily do this from all of our official mobile apps. A special thanks to our partner Photobucket for hosting these photos behind the scenes.

Twitter is working with mobile carriers to allow those without smartphones to send photos by text message (MMS).

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Poynter: Google’s new +1 social search and news publishers

March 31st, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Search, Traffic

This week Google announced a new recommendation tool called +1 which enables users to flag up favourite search results.

Over on Poynter Damon Kiesow looks at the “significant impact” this could have on the way publishers work to draw in visitors online.

For publishers, the result is that pages given a +1 by readers will appear more prominently in Google searches, and will be highlighted as recommendations by friends within the reader’s social network. That network only extends to Google products currently, but it is expected to include Twitter and other services in the future.

And in time publishers themselves will be able to put the +1 buttons on their own web pages, Kiesow adds.

When that does happen, it has the potential to swing the balance of power in the traffic referral battles back toward Google. In the past year, the search giant has seen Facebook increase its influence as a source of web traffic.

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Google announces new Chrome extension to block ‘content farms’

February 15th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Search

Yesterday Google announced that it had launched a new Chrome extension which it claimed would “block low-quality sites from appearing in Google’s web search results”.

We’ve been exploring different algorithms to detect content farms, which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. One of the signals we’re exploring is explicit feedback from users. To that end, today we’re launching an early, experimental Chrome extension so people can block sites from their web search results. If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.

Read more here on the Google Chrome blog…

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Data Miner: Social searching – who has the story?

There is a lot of so-called ‘noise’ on social media networks. A lot of stuff in general. But it is, at times, a great place to find leads or information about stories.

In part two of a series on “social searching”, Nicola Hughes of Data Miner UK has posted a useful guide to some of the tools you can use to cut through all the noise and find what you are looking for, including Topsy, Kurrently, socialmention, and Twitter’s advanced search options.

When you’re chasing something specific then go to Twitter’s advanced search. I’m not sure why it’s not in a more convenient place on the Twitter site itself. This gives you loads more options especially location, people and even language. By far and away the best resource for big breaking events.

See the full post on Data Miner UK at this link.

See part one – Social searching: what’s out there? – at this link

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Google News experiments with new metatags in drive to give credit where it’s due

November 17th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Data, Editors' pick, Online Journalism, Search

Google News has outlined two new metatags it is experimenting with as part of efforts to ensure journalists are correctly credited for their work, by identifying the URLs of syndicated and original copy. In an announcement on its blog yesterday, Google News said:

News publishers and readers both benefit when journalists get proper credit for their work. That can be difficult, with news spreading so quickly and many websites syndicating articles to others. That’s why we’re experimenting with two new metatags for Google News: syndication-source and original-source. Each of these metatags addresses a different scenario, but for both the aim is to allow publishers to take credit for their work and give credit to other journalists.

The first metatag, syndication-source, indicates the preferred URL for a syndicated article:

…if Publisher X syndicates stories to Publisher Y, both should put the following metatag on those articles: <meta name=”syndication-source” content=”http://www.publisherX.com/wire_story_1.html”>

Then for the original-source metatag, the code would indicate the URL of the first article to report on a story with the following: <meta name=”original-source” content=”http://www.example.com/burglary_at_watergate.html”>

In both cases the tags can be used by either the syndicator or journalist responsible for the original copy to identify their work, and then also those who use it in the production of their own reports to offer credit back to those parties.

Google News says that at the moment it will not make any changes to article ranking based on the original-source tag.

We think it is a promising method for detecting originality among a diverse set of news articles, but we won’t know for sure until we’ve seen a lot of data. By releasing this tag, we’re asking publishers to participate in an experiment that we hope will improve Google News and, ultimately, online journalism.

Read more on this here…

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#WEFHamburg: Google keynote – ‘we are not eating your omelette’

October 6th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism, Search

The relationship between Google and news publishers returned to the spotlight today as the search engine’s vice president for Northern and Central Europe Philipp Schindler made his keynote speech at the World Editors Forum in Hamburg.

When asked if news publishers ‘produce the eggs’ while Google ‘eats the omelette’, Schindler argued that there was a “fundamental misunderstanding” about Google’s role in the new media environment.

I do not believe at all we are eating your omelette in any way. Google sends four billion people a month to our partners. This is of significant value. We’re paying out 1.7 billion dollars a quarter to our partners.

For years Google has had a close relationship with publishers and we then later we went on to buy companies to develop products to help publishers monetise better. We helped support them through a transition process. This process was not triggered or really accelerated by Google. There is a fundamental misunderstanding that what we are seeing today was caused by Google. It was a consumer trend.

Part of the challenge is coming from technology and this is also being faced by Google, sometimes people think we are immune to it but they are wrong. The path for us is that we should play the role of a technology partner, we should support the newspaper industry in developing platforms that help them to be successful based on those technology and consumer trends we are seeing.

But this is likely to be far from the final world on this at the World Editors Forum this week as a workshop scheduled for Friday will also look at how news publishers and Google can co-operate.

Also in Schindler’s keynote speech he outlined what he sees as the biggest current trends impacting on the publishing industry, focusing on mobile technologies which he said we still widely underestimate the power of.

The mobile revolution is an unbelievably big and powerful trend. This is in no way going to go away. I believe that we are underestimating the size of the trend.

Google, he added, is now a “mobile first company” with its top engineers busy working on finding the best in mobile.

Other important trends he highlighted include what he perceives as a “fundamental shift” towards richer media, with the increasing use of visualisations, personalisation and “a higher level of smartness”.

He added that news publishers could learn a lot from the gaming industry, indicating that the use of personalisation and rich audio/visual products will be key to the successful development of online publishing.

Finally, he put forward a trend of the future, using the increasing availability of mobile connectivity to improve the ease of translating news and building worldwide audiences.

Imagine a world where anybody can access any information in any language he wants, where you can use mobile phones to automatically translate a conversation between people for example.

Your audience could become truly global. Suddenly your niche is becoming pretty big. It’s going to take a few years before it’s at a point where it is seamless, but don’t bet against this one.

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Study of French news sites: Facebook sends 13 times more referrals than Twitter

September 29th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism, Search, Traffic

Facebook sends 13 times more click-throughs than Twitter to French news sites, according to a recent study.

The AT Internet Institute research reports that Twitter was responsible for just 0.1 per cent of referrals to the country’s top 12 news websites, compared to Facebook which sent 1.3 percent.

By taking the same number of websites into consideration, Google’s share was 40.6 per cent in France, in other words 30 times greater than Facebook. This figure remains high, but we should not forget that the main function of a search engine, such as Google, is to suggest links to Internet users. This is not the case for Facebook. Moreover, on average for French news websites, Facebook generated more traffic (1.3 per cent) than the search engine known as Bing (0.8 per cent).

The French study looked at the average share of visits from 6th to 12th September.

According to its own report on the figures, paidContent:UK said Facebook was rated as the seventh “referral giver” to UK newspaper websites by the Newspaper Marketing Agency in May.

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