You can read Google’s official blog post summarizing the report, or go directly to the user data requests section of the full transparency report. You might also be interested in the government removal requests section of the report. Just how bad has it gotten? Requests for data from governments have shown a steady increase, from 12,539 when Google began reporting them in 2010 to 20,938 in this week’s report. The number of requests doesn’t quite tell the full story, though, since one request can ask for multiple pieces of information. Those 20,938 requests were for information from about …
Governments all over the world want to get their hands on user data from Google for a variety of purposes. Google started tracking the number of these requests in 2010, and has released these numbers in transparency reports every six month. This week, with the search giant’s sixth transparency report, it’s clear to see that these requests are increasing.
You can read Google’s official blog post summarizing the report, or go directly to the user data requests section of the full transparency report. You might also be interested in the government removal requests section of the report.
Just how bad has it gotten? Requests for data from governments have shown a steady increase, from 12,539 when Google began reporting them in 2010 to 20,938 in this week’s report. The number of requests doesn’t quite tell the full story, though, since one “request” can ask for multiple pieces of information. Those 20,938 requests “were for information from about 34,614 accounts,” according to Google.
The trend from governments to request removal of material from Google, on the other hand, looks a little more complicated. Google says that it “was largely flat from 2009 to 2011.” It jumped in this reporting period, however. The search engine’s chart showed 1,048 removal requests for the six-month period ending in December 2011. From January through June 2012, “there were 1,791 requests from government officials around the world to remove 17,746 pieces of content.”
Google’s transparency report includes some nice interactive elements. For example, the table that lists removal requests can be sorted by country, number of requests, percentage of compliance, and more. Not too surprisingly, the United States heads the list for number of court-ordered requests for removal, as well as items requested to be removed – however, the search engine complied with less than half of these court-ordered requests. Its compliance was much higher for certain other countries.
Why would Google not comply with a content removal request? “Some requests may not be specific enough for us to know what the government wanted us to remove…and others involve allegations of defamation through informal letters from government agencies, rather than court orders,” Google explained. Also, the search engine noted in its FAQ that they sometimes receive falsified court orders, “and if we determine that a court order is false, we will not comply with it.”
User data requests from governments may be more worrisome. All countries seem to be showing an up trend here, with the United States leading the pack. In the six-month period covered in the report, the US government made 7,969 requests for user data covering 16,281 accounts – and Google fully or partially complied with these requests ninety percent of the time. These numbers represent more than a third of all user data requests made worldwide – and close to half of the accounts covered in user data requests.
So if you have a Gmail or other Google account, should you be worried? That depends on whether you’ve committed a crime, or have a close association to someone who has. According to Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary at the US Department of Homeland Security, “The government can’t just wander through your emails just because they’d like to know what you’re thinking or doing.” As he explained to the Associated Press, though, “[I]f the government is investigating a crime, it has a lot of authority to review people’s emails.” Even so, the trend is very clear: governments want more information about you, and may be beginning to rein in some of the free-flowing data online. Still, given the sheer size of the Internet, there’s no need to get paranoid yet.
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Chris Silver Smith covers this very well in a guest post for Search Engine Land. He makes the case that many local businesses aren’t blogging yet, which means that a well-written and well-maintained blog can take you over the top – even if you and your rivals have already done all the typical tasks involved in improving your local SEO. How can you improve your local SEO efforts by blogging? Well, to start with, writing regular blog entries means you can jump right on any timely news items or events. Google’s spiders raise their antennas for any whiffs of fresh content, so you’ll attract their…
Are you looking for a way to get your local business website more noticed in the search engines? Consider writing a blog, especially if your competition doesn’t have one. Though they can be a lot of work, they can also bring you a slew of benefits.
Chris Silver Smith covers this very well in a guest post for Search Engine Land. He makes the case that many local businesses aren’t blogging yet, which means that a well-written and well-maintained blog can take you over the top – even if you and your rivals have already done all the typical tasks involved in improving your local SEO.
How can you improve your local SEO efforts by blogging? Well, to start with, writing regular blog entries means you can jump right on any timely news items or events. Google’s spiders raise their antennas for any whiffs of fresh content, so you’ll attract their attention. You’ll also attract the attention of human visitors – and if they interact with you, you’ll set those Google antennas quivering even more. “User interaction signals can give your site a higher prominence score in Google local algorithms,” Smith notes.
Humans do more than interact on your site, though; they also tell their friends about you, linking back to your blog posts. These unsolicited links give your site a unique profile – the kind that can’t be bought, and that Google really appreciates.
With an active blog, you can interact with more than just the visitors to your website who choose to comment. You can also link to other bloggers and comment on their blogs. It’s a very popular way to continue the conversation. If you’re really good (or lucky), they may even visit and leave a comment, or link back to you.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to blogging for your local business website is that it provides you with a platform. You can use this platform as the “voice” of your company if it ever gets attacked online. You can jump into exciting news related to your industry from your blog. You can even link to blog posts from other social media sites to promote your business.
So how do you get started? Smith offers a number of simple recommendations. First, go ahead and use WordPress as your blog’s content management system. It’s already quite search engine friendly, and you can easily find add-ons to make it even more so. It’s a good idea to check with an SEO to help you decide which of these (if any) you should use, and to walk you through the basics.
You can usually choose from a variety of themes for your blog. Given the way Google has been treating links in the post-Penguin era, it makes sense to stay away from themes that don’t let you remove or nofollow links to the designer’s website.
Some site owners wonder if they should set up a separate website for their blog, and point it to their business website. Don’t do it! You want to attract links directly to your business website, not to some other website that then, in theory, boosts your business site. You can put your blog into a dedicated subdirectory or even a subdomain, but make it part of your business website.
Once you get your blog set up, post regularly. Not everyone can manage a post every day, and that’s okay. If you can only do a post once a week, that’s fine. But it’s important to be consistent; that trains Google and your human visitors to expect fresh content. Also, you don’t need to post a novel every time; to be honest, hardly anyone has that kind of attention span online. So if you can only manage three or four paragraphs, do that much – but make them count.
Finally, make your posts interesting and entertaining – and remember that this will probably mean taking your blinders off. Just because you’re an accounting professional, for example, doesn’t mean all of your blog posts need to cover close readings of the tax code, the 1040 and other forms, and various deductions. That’s enough to make ME yawn – and my dad was a CPA in both New York and Florida. You can write about interesting moments in tax history or weird tax facts, like why the folks in Massachusetts and Maine sometimes get an extra day to file their taxes. A little research can turn up some very cool stories. Tell them well and regularly, and you’ll attract all the traffic you can handle. Good luck!