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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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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Q and A: Do YouTube Accounts Ever Expire?

QuestionDear Kalena

Thanks for clarifying in your blog post yesterday about Gmail account expiration. Is it the same situation for YouTube accounts? Do YouTube accounts ever expire and can you acquire the username over time if no-one is using the account?

thanks
Phil

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Dear Phil

Thanks for your feedback about my recent blog post about Gmail account expiry. Because Google owns YouTube, there are some similarities in terms of account expiry and also some crossover in relation to YouTube account hijacking and username impersonation.


YouTube Account Expiry and Transfer

The creation of a YouTube channel requires a Google account. There is no brandname protection over YouTube account creation. Whoever registers a channel name first *owns* that channel.

If someone owns a Google account permanently linked to a YouTube channel e.g. brandname@gmail.com linked to YouTube.com/brandname, to use that channel you would have to convince the Google account holder to transfer the whole account over to you.

Just like Gmail, when a YouTube account is closed, the username is no longer available for use. It’s permanently reserved so you can’t have it transferred to another YouTube account. A closed YouTube account will bring up an error message like this one.


YouTube Account Hijacking

Unlike Google accounts, YouTube have a clearer policy when it comes to username squatting and brand impersonation. From their Username Policy guidelines:

“Impersonating another user by copying their channel layout, using a similar username, or posing as them in comments, emails or videos is considered harassment and is a violation of our Community Guidelines… In cases of username squatting, YouTube may release usernames in cases of a valid trademark complaint.”

Despite the clearer policy guidelines, YouTube still prefers to take a *hands off* approach when dealing with trademark complaints:

“If you are a trademark owner and you believe your trademark is being infringed due to a username issue, please note that YouTube is not in a position to mediate trademark disputes between users and trademark owners. As a result, we strongly encourage trademark owners to resolve their disputes directly with the owner of the username.”


YouTube Account Recovery

If your brand-related YouTube account is being squatted, approach the owners and politely ask if they would be willing to hand over the account/s. Keep in mind that they will have to agree to hand over the related Google account as well. If that fails, you might consider negotiating a price for hand over, as I recommended in an earlier post for Gmail accounts.

If you own the trademark for your brand/company name being squatted on YouTube, lodge a YouTube Trademark Complaint. If the YouTube channel in question is in violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines or is clearly impersonating another user or brand, you can report it via the YouTube Help and Safety Tool.

Good luck.

Kalena

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Q and A: Do Gmail Accounts Ever Expire?

QuestionDear Kalena

I was just wondering if you knew whether Gmail accounts ever expire? About 6 months ago, my company tried to register our brandname @gmail.com so we could associate it with our Google+ account, but somebody was already squatting it. I have been emailing the account every month but my emails are never returned. Is there an expiry period for Gmail accounts and if so, can we apply to take over the account if it relates to our brand name?

thanks
Hannah

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Dear Hannah

I was researching this issue earlier this year for a client who was trying to recover a brand-related YouTube channel and Gmail account being squatted. It took me quite a while to find the answer to this one because Google accounts are a bit of a rabbit hole – even Will Wheaton has trouble with his Gmail accounts!


The Good News

According to a post by a software engineer on the Google Product Forum, a Gmail account does expire and will be deleted after approximately 9 months of inactivity.

It’s not made clear what sort of activity counts, whether logging in, POP/IMAP, forwarding or something else. But if you check the *Last account activity* while logged into your Gmail account, it will show you what type of activity is registered. This link at the bottom of every Gmail page shows you information about recent activity in your mail. Recent activity includes any time that your mail was accessed using a regular web browser, a POP1 client, a mobile device, etc. It will list the IP address that accessed your mail, the associated location, as well as the time and date, so you will be able to determine what Google considers *activity* on your Gmail account and make sure that activity happens on a regular basis to prevent expiration of your email address.


The Bad News

According to a post by John Nu, (an official Gmail Top Contributor), an expired Gmail account can’t be reactivated. Here’s an extract of John’s post:

“Google tracks to determine which accounts have been essentially abandoned by people and eventually deletes them. Each account has essentially two sets of information associated with it, the definition of the account, which includes the account name, ownership information, recovery information, etc.; and the contents of the account. There is also a list of reserved names, which contains every account name that was ever issued by Google and, by implication, variations of the name (e.g., if an account is in the name of “JohnDoe,” then “John.Doe,” “johndoe,” and other variations are implicitly reserved).

The contents of the account are the first to go after an account is deleted. When the account is deleted, the contents only exist in backups. Google only keeps the backups for a limited time, so once the last of the backups that contained the account contents expire, the contents are no longer recoverable.

The record of the account itself is stored separately and has a different retention cycle. That information does not expire until a while after the account contents have completely expired. Once that is deleted, Google has no way to validate ownership of an account.

That leaves only the entry on the list of reserved names. Google leaves the names on that list indefinitely to protect users from potential identity theft: If you abandoned or deleted an account and someone else could reuse the name, it would be very easy for them to present themselves to other websites, etc. as being you. Unfortunately, however, the prior owners are locked out as well, though, because Google lost the ability to verify ownership when the records of the account expired and were deleted.”


Google Account Deactivation and Recovery

According to Google there are several reasons why a username may be unavailable, but they don’t reveal specifics: “To help protect your privacy, we don’t reveal details about why a specific username is unavailable, or whether a username has been deleted.”

Depending on the stage of the deactivation, a Gmail account may still be recoverable. Visit Google Account Recovery and enter the email address.

If it takes you to a *reset password* page, then the account is still recoverable. If you get a message that the account is no longer recoverable, it means that it has likely reached the last phase described above and there is no known way to recover the account or even reuse the email address.


Username Squatting / Brand Impersonation

So having a Gmail account deactivated is one thing, but what if you notice your company name or brand being used on an active Gmail, Google+ or other Google-related account?

Firstly, you’ll need to determine if the profile is being used to deliberately impersonate your brand. It may be simply that another entity shares the same or similar name as your brand and is using the profile legitimately. Google won’t take action against these profiles. However, if you discover content with obvious intent to damage, you *may* have a case for Google to intervene and force a handover of the account or at least, account closure :

“Profiles or pages with clear malicious or personal attacks will be removed, with no proof of identity necessary from the person making the report… Pages that impersonate another company or organization will require an authorized representative of the company or organization being impersonated to provide a form of business verification.”

The process to follow in this case is to click on the Report This Profile link while viewing the profile. Obviously it will help your case if you own the trademark for your brand / company name.


Google Account Deactivation Prevention

There are three lessons here:

1) Reserve your brand or company related Gmail accounts NOW, before they get squatted.

2) If you currently have one or more Gmail accounts, make sure you log into each account on a regular basis to keep them active and make sure they don’t expire. Implement more challenging passwords and other security measures to make sure the accounts don’t get hacked or stolen.

3) If your brand-related Google accounts are being squatted, approach the owners and politely ask if they would be willing to hand over the accounts. If that fails and you don’t have an obvious case for impersonation, trademark violation or copyright infringement, you might consider negotiating a price for hand over. If you own the trademark for your brand/company name being squatted, Report an Inappropriate Profile to Google. If that fails, give up.

Hope this helps!
Kalena

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