Balloon Powered Internet: Has Google Gone Loony?

If it was 1 April, you might think it was just another of Google’s cheeky little April Fool’s Jokes, but Project Loon (launched today) is an actual experimental project from Google to make Balloon-Powered Internet a reality.

What? Balloon-Powered Internet? Yes. Internet access, powered by weather balloons in the stratosphere. Let me explain. We think of the Internet as a global community. But as Google points out, two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access.

project-loon

Google’s idea of Project Loon is to create a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.

What better place to launch a Beta test of Project Loon than in an area prone to natural disasters? Google has chosen New Zealand, specifically right here in Christchurch, as their launch site for specially-designed solar powered balloons to test Project Loon. As the location of thousands of devastating earthquakes in the past 2 years, which knocked out power and Internet connectivity for weeks at a time, Christchurch was a natural choice to test the project.

Today a total of 30 balloons were launched a short distance from here, to travel up 20km above the earth and beam Internet to a small group of pilot testers. The experience of these pilot testers will be used to refine the technology and shape the next phase of Project Loon.

I jumped at the chance to become a Beta tester so hopefully, I’ll be one of the first people in the world selected to test balloon-powered Internet. If I am, you can bet I’ll be reporting on the experience right here :-)

 

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Google Gives the Gift of Panda for Xmas

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the web, people noticed their site traffic was at a low ebb.’

Yes, just in time for Christmas, Google has decided to rollout another Panda algorithm update, this one affecting 1.3% of search queries. According to Search Engine Land, this is the 23rd Panda update since the original Panda rolled out in February 2011.

You can see a handy timeline of all Panda updates on the Search Engine Land site.

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Google Delights Trekkies with Interactive Star Trek Doodle

Star Trek anniversary Google doodleAs soon as I laid eyes on today’s Google Doodle I knew it was going to be my favorite so far. I’m a huge Star Trek fan, so my heart started racing when I typed in Google.com and recognized the familiar uniforms from the Starship Enterprise adorning the letters in the GOOGLE logo. But it’s a far cry from your regular doodle. Today’s Google Doodle is a fully interactive game of sorts.

To mark the 46th anniversary of the iconic TV series Star Trek, Google has put together a really fun commemorative doodle. Ryan Germick, Google doodler and keen Trekkie, led a team of animators to create the multi-scene Star Trek animation to celebrate the show’s launch 46 years ago.Google Doodle Star Trek anniversary

My initial delight in spotting the doodle grew as I discovered the incorporated interactive elements. Clicking on highlighted areas of the Google logo triggers a series of tributes to iconic Star Trek episodes, including “The Trouble With Tribbles” and pilot episode “The Man Trap”, which aired on Sept. 8, 1966. Various letters from the Google logo play the crew of the starship Enterprise. Captain James T. Kirk is played by the central “o” in Google.

There are a few different scenes with various highlighted areas you can click on to make the scene play out. My favorite is the tribbles hiding in the ceiling of the Transporter Room. How many others can you find? After the final animation plays out, Google redirects you to search results for Star Trek the Original Series.

I declare this to be Google’s Best Doodle Ever!  You can watch a full video of the interactions below :

 

 

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Q and A: How Do I Prepare for a Large Site Migration?

QuestionHi Kalena

I work for a medium sized hospitality chain (in the marketing dept) and our leading chain of hotels is about to undergo a brand change. I’ve just found out that management has approved a full domain name change for each of these hotels and scheduled it with our IT department to happen next month. My General Manager bought the domain name without consulting IT or marketing.

I’m freaking out a little because I’ve been given the task of making sure the change goes smoothly and doesn’t impact our Google rankings or traffic, which I’ve spent years building up. There are 3 different regional hotel properties that will be affected and the content will be transferred over to a single domain! What should I expect? Is there anything I can do to make the transition go smoothly?

Regards
Belinda

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Hi Belinda

Oh boy, I don’t envy you. Yes, you are right to be freaking out – at least a little. Site migrations are a royal pain in the you know where and can result in masses of lost traffic and lost search engine rankings.

By the sound of things, your site migration will be complicated by the fact that there are multiple domains shifting to a single domain. Now before you start hyperventilating, there are some things you can do in preperation:

1) Read this terrific presentation about site migration by Aidan Beanland of Yahoo and then read it again. Create a plan for your own migration situation.

2) Go spend some time with the IT department. Hopefully you get on well with them because you’ll be spending a lot of time talking to them over the next few months. Provide them with a copy of Aidan’s guide so they know what to expect. You’ll need to find out their strategy for the roll-out, including pre-switch benchmarking, 301 redirect integration and testing, specific dates for content transfer, the big switch and final DNS propagation.

3) Consider shifting the content of each individual hotel into distinct region-based sub-domains on the new site e.g. Dallas.HotelBrand.com, Austin.HotelBrand, Houston.HotelBrand rather than trying to combine all content into a single site. This way, you can optimize the sub-domains as distinctive sites and retain the location-related Google rankings you have spent so long building up. If you can prove large traffic losses will occur if you don’t do this (and they will!), it should be easy to get IT and management onside.

4) Take an active role in the pre-migration benchmarking process, particularly in relation to site analytics, most popular content and search engine rankings. Ensure your company keep ownership of the old domains and keep all sites live until the new domain has fully propagated.

5) Be prepared with other online/offline marketing activities to promote the hotels in case of sudden traffic loss.

6) Make sure your manager and stakeholders know what is within/beyond your control! Make it very clear what can go wrong during the move and protect yourself by warning them ahead of time of the potential negative outcomes.

Good Luck!

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Struggling to get your site higher in Google? Download my Free SEO Lesson. No catch!

 

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Google Launches Analytics App for Android

Attention Android fans, Google has just launched a Google Analytics App for Android-enabled mobile phones.

Google Analytics App for Android  is a mobile app that delivers essential analytics data to you anytime, anywhere, provided you have an Android-enabled phone. In a meeting and need traffic or sales figures quickly? No more having to wait until you can access your desktop PC to see important stats – with the Analytics App, they are all now at your fingertips.

You can see real time statistics, customizable dashboards and intelligence reports directly on your phone with the Google Analytics App. It allows you to access the same accounts and profiles you see when you open Analytics from a desktop browser, but the reports are delivered in an optimized format for your phone.

The following *swipe through* reports are available:

  •     Real-Time: See the number of visitors you currently have and a list of the pages (for websites) or screens (for apps) that are currently popular.
  •     Dashboard: Monitor the KPIs and user metrics you care about the most. By default, you’ll see your Daily Unique Visitors and your Goal Conversion Rate, but you can customize the dashboard to change which reports, metrics, or segments you see.
  •     Automatic and Customized Alerts: Google Analytics detects statistical anomalies in your data and can send you an alert when something unusual happens. See automatic alerts, or customize your settings to send alerts based on your own benchmarks.

The Google Analytics app is available from here and currently has an average user rating of 4 stars, based on over 400 reviews.

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