Is It 2011 All Over Again with Newest Google Update?

Many Internet marketers remember February 2011 very clearly. It was when Google rolled out its Panda update, which instantly changed the way websites were ranked by the Internet search engine giant’s algorithm.

Will Googles latest update – that rolled out starting on April 21 – cause the same amount of angst and teeth-gnashing? Possibly.

Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

Google is finally acknowledging that most people are accessing the web via their mobile devices – such as their phones, tablets and new iWatches – rather than on old-school laptops or (gasp!) PCs. It’s new algorithm, which doesn’t yet have a deceptively cute animal name the way Panda and Penguin did, is expected to radically change the way marketers search results by being more mobile-friendly.

A recent survey by the consulting group gShift found that a majority of marketers expect Google’s new algorithm to change their site’s page rankings. And about two-thirds of the online marketers polled said they already have taken steps to make their websites more mobile-friendly in anticipation of the update’s roll out.

The Rise of Mobile Web Access

It’s a testament to how quickly technologies can improve that the majority of web users now use mobile devices to access their favorite web pages and apps. Increased bandwidth, exponential expansion of memory and data processing, and near-universal WiFi has made mobile the way to go for most Internet users.

Only a few years ago – perhaps not coincidentally when Google was rolling out its Panda update – it was unthinkable for most people to stream their favorite TV shows or play multi-player games from their phones while on the go. But today, it’s as common as having a cup of coffee in the morning or chatting about “Game of Thrones” over the water cooler.

Who the Update Will Effect

About a third of website owners polled by gShift said they get between 11% and 50% of their traffic from mobile devices, and that’s probably on the low site. Another study conducted by the mobile commerce platform Branding Brand found that 43% of all traffic to major retailers comes from smart phones and tablets.

If you have taken steps to make your web page more mobile-friendly in recent months, you’re not alone. An estimated 68% of marketers surveyed by gShift said they have made the move to mobile-centric web pages.

And it makes perfect sense. Digital marketers understand how important it is to provide page visitors with websites that are optimized for the devices they are using to land on them. Having a well-defined mobile strategy today is as important as SEO and link-building were prior to Panda and Penguin: It was simply something that you had to do in order to be successful. Not doing it was unthinkable.

Top Secret Algorithm Update

While Google, as usual, is remaining tight-lipped about what its new algorithm will look like, there are some clues if you know where to look.

For example, in March Zineb Ait Bahajji, a member of Google’s Webmaster Trends team, hinted that the new update will have a more profound impact on search results than either of the previous “Big Two” updates did.

While Panda weeded out websites with poor quality content and Penguin, which came in 2012, penalized sites that used backlinks and other artificial means to boost rankings, the latest Google algorithm update is anticipated to value pages that are most optimized for mobile users.

So if you haven’t already converted your web pages so that they are mobile-friendly, there isn’t much time left. You don’t want to wake up to discover that your top-ranking web pages are now nowhere to be found.

4 Disruptive Trends to Watch Out for in 2015

There are certain events that happen in marketing that change the face of the way business is conducted forever.

For example, in 2004 who could have guessed that a software program invented by a geeky undergraduate in a Harvard University dorm room designed to make it easier to meet girls would have such a profound effect on the way people communicate with each other in the 21st Century? Yet Facebook has done exactly that.

Or flash back to 2007, when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introduced a new gadget that he promised would alter the way people not only used the telephone, but accessed the Internet, shopped for the products and services they wanted, and were entertained. He was right: Today the iPhone and its imitators are used all day every day by billions of people worldwide.

Identifying Disruptors

Facebook, the iPhone and other game-changing developments are what are known as disruptors. They change the rules, alter behavior, and shake the very foundations of the marketplace. Once these genies are let out of their respective bottles, it’s practically impossible to imagine a world without them.

Knowing how to spot disruptors before they come onto the scene is a skill that needs to be developed. Some of these advancements occur organically and unexpectedly, as was the case of Facebook. I doubt that even Mark Zuckerberg knew what he had when he developed the social media platform’s prototype between classes at Harvard.

Others are developed in secret, under tight security. That’s how the iPhone was able to take the world, and especially techies – by surprise (and capture such an enormous market share of the mobile industry). Nobody saw it coming.

4 Potential Disruptors

While nobody knows for sure which new technology or software is going to turn the world upside down, it’s possible to take an educated guess. Here are four potential disruptors to watch in the coming year and beyond:

Wearable Technology – People laughed when Google Glass was first introduced in 2012 as a prototype. But in the ensuing years, wearable technology has become cutting edge. Apple has responded with its iWatch, and is rumored to be developing even further tech devices that can be worn while used. And businesses and industries are now adjusting to their workers wearing their web access devices while on the job in the same way they were forced to deal with employees bringing their cell phones to work in the late 1990s.

Driverless Vehicles – The technology for driverless cars and other vehicles has existed for many years. Using GPS, radar, laser-guided cameras and other devices, cars, trucks, taxis and even forklifts can now move more safely and efficiently that those driven by humans. But the automobile industry and others are justifiably concerned about consumer pushback to such technologies. That’s why they are slowly introducing the concept to the public through such things as cars that can parallel park themselves, cars with 360-degree cameras, auto-braking and collision deterrent devices.

Digital Money – Right now, there is a battle going on for control of your virtual wallet. Some companies like PayPal and Google Wallet are winning while others, like BitCoin, are failing. But eventually, safe, hassle-free digital commerce will replace theï€ inconvenience of carrying cash and payments from your smart phone or other device will be universally accepted.

Streaming Media Content – Consumers have spoken. They prefer the convenience of watching the movies and programming they prefer via streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon to being tied to network or cable TV schedules. The industry observers who have been predicting the fall of the networks for years are now adding cable and satellite providers to the list of potential victims.

Amazon’s Unmanned Delivery Drones One Step Closer to Lift-Off

Many people in the tech industry can remember exactly where and when they were when they first heard about Amazon’s plans to use unmanned flying drones to deliver products to their customers in as little as 30 minutes from when they were ordered online.

When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first unveiled the plan to Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes” in December, 2013, it had the same impact for many as watching the first moon landing, the Challenger explosion, or 9/11. We all knew instantly that everything had changed forever.

Future Shock

So far, the 21st Century has been lived up to expectations as far as futuristic developments. Unrestricted mobile access to the Internet has connected us all. Driverless cars are only a few more years away. And big data analysis has allowed governments to spy not only on their enemies, but on all of their own citizens simultaneously.

So perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised by Bezos announcement that the world’s largest online retailer (and world’s largest store, for that matter) was developing tiny unmanned helicopters that could transport the books, small appliances and other products we purchased online directly to our doorstep in literally minutes after we clicked the “Buy Now” button.

After the initial “gee whiz” shock of the announcement wore off, next came the naysayers: “The FAA will never let them do it.” “There are too many power lines, phone wires and other detritus for drones to actually work.” “Aren’t those the same type of drones we use to drop bombs on the heads of our enemies?”

It’s Finally Happening

The pushback from the Amazon announcement had all but erased the idea from most people’s minds. Until now, that is. Now, it look as if it’s actually happening.

Earlier this month, the FAA granted Amazon a special exemption that allowed the retailer to begin real-time testing of its Prime Air drone fleet of unmanned helicopters.

Despite objections from airlines and agricultural pilots, the FAA gave Amazon Prime Air the green light, stating that the drones posed less safety risk than larger drones used for defense and aerospace purposes. Some observers said that suggests the FAA would be okay with Amazon’s unmanned drone delivery plans, as long as it was limited for the time being in location, site access, two-way communication capabilities, and pilot experience.

Pilot Program to Start Right Away

The FAA’s exemption allows Amazon to roll out a pilot program using drones that weigh less than 55 pounds, including the payload – and that travel below speeds of 100 miles per hour. The drones can only be operated at altitudes lower than 400 feet and, for the time being at least, must be within the unaided sight of human controllers at all times.

Although opponents asked that Amazon be limited to using controllers who hold commercial airline pilot license, or at least private pilot licenses, the FAA agreed to allow the online retailer to use controllers who had only recreational or sport pilot certificate, which requires far less training and certification. Controllers also will need to have a valid driver’s license.

The ultimate goal of Amazon is to dispatch squadrons of drones from regional distribution centers located all over the US. Consumers would be able to receive delivery of their orders in 30 minutes or less.

If the program is successful, it could change the face of package delivery permanently. Other retailers would almost certainly follow suit. And soon the low-altitude airways could be filled with unmanned drones flying back and forth overhead like something out of a science fiction movie.

Is Email (Finally) Dead?!?

For years, people in the tech industry have been predicting (or lamenting) the death of email as a form of communication.

“Kids don’t use email anymore.” “There are better, faster and more effective ways to interact with other people, such as texting and social media.” “I know people who don’t even have an email address.”

These are some of the most common statements you hear regarding the death of email. (Perhaps it’s telling that I’ve been hearing these same statements for nearly a decade now.)

The Death of Email?

So what’s the real deal? Is email actually dead?

To answer this question, let me ask one of my own: When was the last time you checked your email account? This week? This morning? Just now?

The truth is that most people will go to their email every time their smart phone beeps, vibrates or otherwise indicates that a new email message has just landed in their inbox. It’s just a natural human response, kind of like when people used to answer their home telephones whenever it rang. It takes some time to de-program it.

More Popular than Ever

In reality, email is more popular than ever, especially among marketers. According to an April, 2015, study conducted by Yahoo! Labs and the University of Southern California, called “Evolution of Conversations in the Age of Email Overload”, most people are now receiving more emails in their inbox than ever before.

Part of that is businesses finally catching up with available marketing technology. While many small businesses have been collecting customers’ email addresses for years, it’s only been recently that many have finally figured out what to do with them.

People are more willing to give up their email address than they are, say, their mobile phone numbers. That’s because they know they can easily ignore or delete emails they don’t really want to see.

Too Many Emails

Today, most people receive more emails than they can conceivably read and respond to. Personally, I usually begin each working day by deleting about 80% to 90% of the emails in my inbox, mostly from marketers or others promoting something I’m not interested in.

Yet like me, most people won’t go to the trouble of unsubscribing from the source of all those emails out of fear that they might miss out on the one offer or email that they genuinely are interested in.

Ease of Email

It’s also easier than ever for people to keep up with their emails. Spam detectors have done an effective job of filtering out the truly irrelevant and unwanted emails. And now people can read their emails, or at least their subjects and who they are from, as a scroll on their smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.

And because more emails today are being sent and received on mobile devices, they tend to be shorter. Perhaps this is why the average amount of time it takes for people to respond to emails sent from smart phones (28 minutes) is so much shorter than those sent from tablets (57 minutes) or from desktop computers or laptops (62 minutes,), according to the Yahoo!/USC study. Could that mean that emails and text messages are beginning to morph into the same thing?

They Myth of Young People and Email

As expected, older people tend to use emails more than younger people. But the difference may not be as big as many people might think.

During the course of the study, 53% of adults between 35 and 50 years old sent emails from their phones or tablets at least once, compared to only 49% of teenagers between13 and 19 and 48% of young adults between 20 and 35 years old. Older people (51+) sent the fewest emails via mobile devices, at 43%, according to the study.

So email is definitely not dead. It’s not even wounded. Eventually, however, it may eventually morph into something entirely different, in the way the telephone did.