The 5 Most Spammy, Lame SEO Tactics of all Time – Tech Cocktail

Tech Cocktail
The 5 Most Spammy, Lame SEO Tactics of all Time
Tech Cocktail
As we all know, the fundamental objective of SEO in the past was to trick the search engines into giving a website better rankings. This was usually done for a very narrow set of high search volume keywords. Search engine optimization used to be a
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The 4 Most Difficult Parts of SEO Broken DownAllBusiness (blog)
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Twitch Plays Pokemon And The Year In Crowdplaying

Editor’s Note: This was originally published by our partners at Kill Screen as part of Kill Screen’s Year In Ideas series.  

Twitch Plays Pokemon is one of those ideas that should never have really caught on the way it did. Type a command into an endlessly scrolling barrage of comments, look over at the tiny GameBoy emulator at the left of the screen, and if you’re lucky, you might just see the avatar do what you asked. This was never how things really went down, though. 

With thousands of TPPers at their computers fighting to have their commands heard, most inputs would never actually register with the computer. This was the video game equivalent of closing your eyes, making a wish and then throwing your penny into a volcano.

For more stories about video games and culture, follow@killscreen on Twitter.

Still, the offbeat social experiment caught on like gangbusters. The original run lasted two weeks, attracted millions of viewers, and, by its end, had become a bona fide cultural phenomenon.

The problem with Twitch Plays Pokemon is that it was pretty much a one-time deal. The stream is still ongoing, constantly cranking through new Pokemons on a 24/7 basis, but the channel will never again live up to that first run, and there’s no reason why it should. Twitch Plays Pokemon may have been the most impressive crack at “crowd-play” to date (its 2013 predecessor Salty Bet was more of a savage curiosity), the interactive element felt about as exciting as stuffing a million people into a Ford Pinto and making them drive from LA to San Francisco. 

It was nice that the Internet had found a way to pat itself on the back, but nobody wanted to spend another day fumbling through Start menus and walking around in circles.

Still, necessity is the mother of invention, and even something as convoluted as Twitch Plays Pokemon can become interesting when it confronts the Internet with a big enough challenge. This was a prime opportunity for creative ingenuity, and after a while the act of observation completely eclipsed the act of play. Viewers became scribes, interpreting the abstract messages of a volatile dot matrix oracle.

See also: Cartographic Survey: The Year In Video Game Maps

For Twitch Plays Pokemon, there was no better place to make direct contact with the chaos than the naming menu, which allows players to nickname the creatures they’ve caught. The Twitch chat scribes would wait anxiously while the cursor flicked through letters like a roulette wheel, only to emerge with some unintelligible moniker along the lines of “ABBBBBBK(” or “JLVWNNOOOO.”

Watching the Twitch chat accelerate in the aftermath of a nicknaming was not unlike gazing into a supernova. When the Twitch roulette eventually landed on the nickname of “AA-j” for its new Zapdos, the cultural arbiters of TPP went to work, searching desperately for meaning in this random message. A few interpretations of the name “AA-j” stuck, but some of them—like “Battery Bird”—felt freakishly apt for an electric-type Pokemon whose name started with double A’s. 

This was magic, as if the Internet had convened to paintball a Pollock and inexplicably came back with a Bruegel. What had started as an ambitious exercise in futility became an impromptu oral tradition complete with sad goodbyes, avian messiahs, and one almighty Helix Fossil to reign over them all.

Tiny Cogs In A Fascinating Machine

The world post-TPP became a mosh pit of half-baked attempts to rekindle the magic of that first run. Between Overwolf’s CrowdPlay app, Dead Nation’s Twitch-integrated spectator voting system, and marginally successful TPP spin-offs like Fish Play Street Fighter, it looked for a minute like these oddities could actually catch on as-is.

See also: Want To Learn About Game Design? Go To Ikea

What all these attempts failed to do—and which Twitch Plays Pokemon could only pull off once—was to embrace the constrictive input system as a grand metaphysical force. Through some form of digital blood-alchemy, viewers found a way to humanize a mode of interaction which, by its nature, had obliterated the impact of individual participants.

One of the earliest forms of crowd art was a surrealist technique called cadavre exquis—“Exquisite Corpse.” An artist would draw out a body part and then conceal the majority of whatever she’d just drawn. From there, she’d pass it on to another artist, who would expand on the original by attaching new body parts of their own. The result was an Exquisite Corpse: A grotesque and deformed mess of flesh and phalanges, with legs jutting out from necks and toenails growing in nostrils.

Any Exquisite Corpse with more than two artists took on the guise of anonymity. While a contributor’s distinct style might betray the occasional limb, most idiosyncrasies would blend into the whole of the cadaver. In this sense, the Exquisite Corpse was a meditation on the unsettling byproducts of artistic and collaborative dissonance.

Twitch Plays Pokemon worked its magic in a similar way. Instead of contributing to some grand vision, participants became tiny cogs in a fascinating machine. By embracing this conceit, TPP became a bizarro reflection on the chaos of the Internet in 2014.

This undermining of the collaborative mechanism flies in the face of most crowd art, which has traditionally sought to incorporate scattered talents into a greater whole. For the performance of his original composition “Lux Aurumque,” Eric Whitacre gathered up a 2,000-person virtual choir, whose members each recorded their vocal parts on webcam. 

With the audio and video edited together (a process that must have taken days to perfect) the final product is a haunting work whose tenor takes on an ethereal, almost synthetic quality. As the vocal median approaches an uncanny perfection, the only thing to keep the song grounded is a slight discrepancy in cutoffs, with hundreds of discernible plosives ending each phrase.

Along with projects like Janet Echelman and Aaron Koblin’s interactive sky tapestry Unnumbered Sparks and the irreverent Star Wars Uncut, Whitacre’s virtual choir represents a more human-centric brand of crowd spectacle. If you were to take these works and hone in on one specific part, you’d be able to pick out distinct stylistic voices from within the work itself. Instead of constructing a monolithic culture to surround it, the work creates its own internal style from individual expressions.

Don’t Trust Neanderthals Behind The Controllers

Contrary to what Twitch Plays Pokemon might suggest, it’s the people-centric experiences that will help crowd-play make the biggest splash. Robot Loves Kitty’s weird and ambitious project Upsilon Circuit takes some cues from TPP by allowing spectators to vote on player upgrades, but differs in just about every other regard. As a game show-meets-RPG, a couple participants actually sit behind a controller and play the game, with viewers guiding their path to either assist or sabotage their efforts.

See also: Call Of Duty Doesn’t Understand Grief—But Who Does?

This approach is way more Whitacre than Exquisite Corpse, but brings a ton of problems that Twitch Plays Pokemon never had to worry about. By disempowering individual players, TPP had flipped the script on would-be trolls, making them an essential part of the creative process. Often, the most chaotic inputs would produce the stream’s most memorable and heart-wrenching moments.

But for Upsilon Circuit, which attempts to give every player a tangible sense of control, trolls have more to work with. Instead of letting the chaos unfurl naturally, they end up relying on player cooperation. If Upsilon Circuit is ever going to work out like a game show, it’ll have to find some incentive to keep contestants coming back until they lose.

For the freeware project please be nice :(, Aran Koning extrapolated this idea to its natural extreme, putting his tiny development team at the complete mercy of players. As the game’s central mechanic, the first person to beat a new version of please be nice :( gets to recommend a new feature. As part of the deal, Koning and Co. have to develop that feature, bless their hearts.

See also: Sweden’s Sexism Test For Games Is A Great Idea

As of now, please be nice :( is a broken, meme-riddled, lumbering mess of mechanical non-sequiturs, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe please be nice :( is a cautionary tale that we shouldn’t trust the power-hungry neanderthals behind the controllers. At the very least, after more than 100 iterations, the individual footprints that stomped this poor game into the ground have also made it instantly recognizable. There’s nothing else quite like please be nice :( , and some respite in knowing that there probably never will be.

For now, the ideal path for crowd-play seems to take the middle road: Don’t give players too much power, but don’t diminish their impact, either. As of now, progress on this front is a bit of a slow burn. Way ahead of the pack is EVE Online, whose in-game world is almost completely controlled by players, but can only uphold its flexibility by way of a prohibitive learning curve. The rest have tended to lag far behind, using crowd influence—and not crowd-play—to give their worlds a bit of human depth.

By displaying the current progress of other players on the map, Inkle’s interactive adventure game 80 Days enforced the challenge of global circumnavigation as a high-stakes competition. Elsewhere, Hello Games’ upcoming No Man’s Sky lets players explore the universe, tacking their names permanently onto the planets they discover. These are a far cry from crowd-play proper, but with online infrastructures to build and trolls to worry about, the genre will have to crawl before it can sprint.

See also: Four Things I Learned While Writing A Book About Super Mario Bros. 2

Twitch Plays Pokemon’s stroke of genius was to sidestep these technical limitations through its comically arcane input system. By harnessing the Internet’s collective imagination, the stream showcased all the weird, glorious potential of crowd-play even as it proceeded to to make a mockery of the idea itself. 

With an Internet-sized dose of creative ingenuity, the stream became both a defining cultural moment of 2014 and an experimental look into the future of the video game medium. It’ll be a long and gradual climb before we establish a crowd-play platform as compelling asTwitch Plays Pokemon; the real challenge will be to make it stick.

More From Kill Screen

For more stories about video games and culture, follow@killscreen on Twitter.

Lead image by Jordan Rosenberg

View full post on ReadWrite

Big Companies Are Still Struggling To Buy A Big Data Clue

Data science remains the surest ticket to Big Salary nirvana. If only it paid equally large dividends for the companies paying those salaries. Part of the problem stems from getting enough qualified people into a market desperate for answers.

But part of the problem stems from asking the wrong questions in the first place.

Big Love For Big Data

Given the furor over Big Data, it’s not surprising to see companies clamoring to hire people with data science expertise. As LinkedIn’s annual analysis of 330 million user profiles shows, statistical analysis and data mining skills top the charts as the hottest of hot skills in 2014, with Big Data-related talents accounting for a third of the top-15 hottest skills. 

See also: LinkedIn Reveals The Top 25 Job Skills Of The Year

Source: LinkedIn

Given the law of supply and demand, it’s not surprising that data scientists make so much money. How much? Over $123,000 per year, on average, with that number sharply rising each year for the past several years.

Students are hoping to satiate that demand, with record numbers of MBA and engineering candidates rushing to become certified data scientists. (Which, as Mitchell Sanders writes, is somewhat silly, given the unique blend of skills needed to do data science well.)

Over time, as Gartner analyst Alan Duncan posits, salaries will even out. For now, however, the tools and knowledge needed to master modern data are so arcane that companies need to put out big money to have any hope of getting value from Big Data.

Big Delays For Big Data

Which may be one reason so many companies are sitting on the sidelines. 

Given this influx of Big Data talent, it would be reasonable to assume more Big Data projects are being launched and delivering real value. This assumption, however, is wrong.

See also: Why Data Scientists Get Paid So Much

While not “hard” data, Gartner analysts Merv Adrian and Nick Huedecker have been tracking Hadoop deployments through surveys of webinar participants over the last year. As Adrian writes, this survey data indicates that Hadoop deployments, the poster child for Big Data, have been “slow to grow so far.” 

While he concedes a growing number of pilots as organizations experiment with Hadoop, he points to “no dramatic growth in substantial projects undertaken so far, or substantial additional projects being added to the same cluster and driving growth.”

In other words, Hadoop and, by extension, Big Data, is lumbering along.

This back-of-the-envelope analysis finds support in various other studies that suggest that roughly 70% of organizations still aren’t doing much with Big Data. Part of this derives from a talent shortage. 

But part also stems from confusion as to which tools to use, and how. As Bloomberg project lead Matt Hunt insists: “At Bloomberg that we don’t have a big data problem. What we have is a ‘medium data’ problem—and so does everyone else.” Hunt suggests that tools like Hadoop are the wrong tool for the right job: They assume scale that most companies don’t have.

As such, it’s not clear that hiring a rock star data scientist will solve anything. Except, perhaps, if they come with enough training to know when to not use popular but improper tools.

The Big Data Cog

Regardless of tools, as Pam Baker highlights, Big Data often depends on little people like you or I to input it into systems correctly. As she describes, this is wishful thinking at best. And when the data going in is garbage, the resulting analysis will be, too:

If the small data is wrong or missing, the big data analysis is off the mark, too. And small data today is a complete and utter disaster nearly everywhere I look.

Even if we assume perfect data input, it’s still the case that we analyze the data through the lens of our own biases, something that is simply impossible to avoid. Throwing more data at our biases doesn’t remove the problem. It amplifies it.

We are the ones asking questions of our data. We are the ones deciding which data to keep, and which to query. We, in other words, are Big Data’s biggest hurdle. 

Maybe paying data scientists more money will solve this. Maybe training a new generation of data-savvy students will help, too. 

But it’s also time that we took a deep breath and acknowledged that while data can and should influence more of our decision-making, it’s not an infallible god that will always steer us correctly. Because the data is ultimately all about us, and our own abilities to master it.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock

View full post on ReadWrite

Is Email Marketing Effective? Three Examples That Prove It Is by @

Email marketing gets a bad rap. Sure, it’s not quite as embarrassing as direct mail (which is somehow a $12 billion per year industry), but it’s pretty close. Many marketers have been seduced by social media advertising, perceiving it to be not only “cooler,” but also more effective than email marketing. There’s no denying that social media gets a lot more media attention than email marketing. However, claims that email marketing is no longer effective are simply not true, and any marketer worth their salt will tell you that email remains a cornerstone of their campaigns. Not convinced? Then check […]

The post Is Email Marketing Effective? Three Examples That Prove It Is by @ appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

View full post on Search Engine Journal

SearchCap: Brands Still Confounded By Local Search, Bing Adds Amber Alerts & Local SEO In 2015

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Brands Still Confounded By Local Search, Bing Adds Amber Alerts & Local SEO In 2015 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

View full post on Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Now You Can Add Stickers To Facebook Messenger Photos

Now you can festoon the photos you share in Facebook Messenger with stickers, the company announced Friday.

See also: Facebook Makes Messenger Mandatory

Called Stickered For Messenger, the “lightweight” new feature will be available for Android beginning Friday and “soon” for iOS. Just in time for the holidays, it will include some festive sticker packs for Christmas and New Year’s.

Stickered For Messenger links to your Facebook Messenger account so you can send decorated photos to your friends directly. The app doesn’t support other messenger platforms, but since the photos then save to your camera roll, you can share them with other platforms indirectly through that route.

It’s unclear if Facebook got its inspiration from the East, but there’s no denying that the stickers-on-photos thing was mastered in Asia first and popularized by Asian messenger apps like LINE. A free chat app, LINE makes its revenue from selling sticker packs to users, a model that Facebook would be wise to emulate here.

Photo via Facebook

View full post on ReadWrite

Bing Search Adds AMBER Alerts

Bing sources data from National Center for Missing & Exploited Children databases for their new AMBER alert box.

The post Bing Search Adds AMBER Alerts appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

View full post on Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

The New Spambot-Free Instagram Is Now Worth $35 Billion

You’ve got to clear out the crap in your life if you want to have room for prosperity. That’s just good feng shui! And look how well it’s worked out for Instagram.

More than 18.9 million fake users vanished from the photo-sharing service between Wednesday and Thursday as Instagram actively deleted spambots, the New York Times reports. And voila! On Friday, Citigroup issued a note valuing Instagram at $35 billion. 

That’s a heck of a return on the $1 billion Facebook paid for the company in 2012. Still, the nearly 55% percent boost over Citigroup’s previous valuation—$19 billion—likely isn’t the total result of the recent Instagram Rapture that depleted celebrity Instagram accounts which attract advertisers with high follower counts. Instagram announced last week that it now has more than 300 million users excluding the deleted spambots—rapid growth that now makes it bigger than bigger than Twitter, with 284 million users.

Like Twitter, Instagram will soon verify its famous users, which might take some of the sting out of the 3.5 million followers Justin Bieber lost to the Instagram rapture, or the 1.3 million Kim Kardashian lost on her account.

Being verifiably famous on Instagram means big money for photo-sharing celebrities willing to endorse brands through the social network. It also means a black market in fake Twitter followers in the form of spambots that can be purchased for a price.

Trouble is, spambots can’t be manipulated into buying stuff a Kardashian says is cool. Still, the industry of shadow followers hasn’t spooked Citigroup, which projects Instagram has the potential to earn as $2 billion annually for Facebook. 


View full post on ReadWrite

Bing Integrates AMBER Alerts and Updates Local Search on Mobile

Bing has integrated AMBER Alerts into its search engine, as well as enhanced its local search capabilities for mobile.

View full post on Home – SearchEngineWatch

Despite Documented Performance Lift Brands Still Confounded By Local Search

Remarkably there are still marketers out there that don’t “get” local search or why marketing campaigns should be localized. There are numerous studies and reports that indicate localized display and local search campaigns (on the PC and mobile) outperform “national”…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

View full post on Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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