Google's Larry Page Is IBD's CEO Of The Year

When Larry Page became Google's chief executive in April, he could have taken a hands-off approach to running the company.

Few would have questioned a neutral stance.

After all, the world's leading search provider continues to expand profit and revenue at a record pace while racking up cash reserves of $42.6 billion and a market cap of $163 billion

Instead, Page, who founded the firm in 1998 with partner Sergey Brin, plugged into a higher speed.

He reorganized the company's management structure, redesigned the face of the company's products and pushed forward with a multibillion dollar deal to acquire a cellphone manufacturing outfit.

He also launched two other products aiming at Groupon, the leader of online coupons, and Facebook, the top social networking site.


NSTIC Google & SEO

In case you missed it, Google is now a credentialed provider of Trusted Identities for the federal government. This means that the NSTIC, or National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, framework now has federally recognized and certified identity providers.
But who are these providers exactly, what is the NSTIC and how does this affect the users in matters of privacy, anonymity or even SEO? Below is a video that helps easily explains what it means to be working with the #NSTIC and how these issues are addressed, or not addressed by the NSTIC Framework.

WATCH THIS VIDEO! (No really, you should)

There are a lot of reasons to watch of course. However, because everyone is wondering why so many changes are happening in search and social. Changes such as SSL secure keyword referrer data, and if you do not know about the new Identity Market, if you haven't made yourself familiar with the tenets of the NSTIC and the Identity Ecosystem, you might miss that this is more likely part of a much larger plan at Google, PayPal, Facebook and the like.
So watch THE VIDEO, learn about the Identity Ecosystem. There are companies already set to go, marketplaces ready to run, and credentialed providers such as Google, PayPal and Equifax who have already started implementation procedures. It can't be ignored because it already exists; they might just hoping maybe you don't notice, well at least not yet.

The NSTIC: Myths, Misnomers, and What About SEO?

What does this mean and why should you care? As you read the documents, they sound so bright and shiny I think I need shades.
So what are the glossy points brushing over? Well, there are several areas in the documentation that are not covered well, in much depth, or at all and so a few points for thought.
Most of these are discussion points gleaned from documentation cited below, but summarized for your reading pleasure, as I'm sure you're on your fourth or fifth eggnog by now.

Why Does This Matter to SEO?

"And the notion of strong identity was never invented in the Internet. Many people worked on it - I worked on it as a scientist 20 years ago, and it's a hard problem. So if we knew that it was a real person, then we could sort of hold them accountable, we could check them, we could give them things, we could you know bill them, you know we could have credit cards and so forth and so on, there are all sorts of reasons."
The new changes to Google rel="author", rel="publisher", social relationships as a ranking factor, SSL search for keyword data, changes to the privacy policy to represent EU standards the list goes on and on are all seemingly unrelated, but are they?
Well if you read the NSTIC and the quotes of Eric Schmidt, one of these things looks like the other. In context, of an Identity Ecosystem knowing who wrote something, who published it, knowing social relationship all makes sense. Hiding keyword data and other information from public view as part of a credentialing policy makes sense as trying to meet the new Google privacy policy of the EU is much more difficult than meeting the one here in the U.S.
Part of the new "Google" is about contextualizing SEO in the concepts of an Identity Framework where Google will know who you are and what you read, wrote even possibly emailed because who knows how many of the factors will come into play once it is all tied together. This is unclear, but identity factors as part of ranking, well that already exists, they just call it Trust Indicators. Ah a rose by any other name...well still says NSTIC.
Now, in the older days of Google, they would say, we can't do that because it leaves all the non-Googly people out, but I don't think that matters with today's Google as G+ IS a known ranking factor, so why not Identity Factors? Remember according to Eric Schmidt of Google, G+ is an Identity Network, not a social one.
PLUS, most people will choose an identity provider somewhere down the line if they want to use certain services (read the documents). Guessing Google thinks they will be a dominant provider.

Some Other NSTIC Myths

  • Myth of "voluntary" or "opt-in" - One of the key components of the NSTIC documentation is that this is all voluntary. You're told over and over, that you don't have to participate in the NSTIC framework. Well this may be technically true; I don't have to have a car either. However, when Google, PayPal, Equifax are now credentialed providers of government services now and soon to be sites like Facebook are later. When hundreds of sites move toward this program, what do you do? Opt out?
  • Myth of "security" - Most articles I have read in relation to the assumed increased security of this Identity Ecosystem have all called it into the crosshairs as inherently more insecure. So what are the security considerations?
    If you think about it, why would not logging in be that much more secure anyway? Yes, you take away those people who use "password" as their password, but you could also just program into systems not to take those words. You also could get rid of the antiquated method of password creation. Did you know a four unrelated word, four letter common word password is inherently more secure than your can't ever remember Capital letter, #umber, 30characters? Crazy huh?
    What else? Well what if someone gets a hold of your identity? Hackers have crackedeverysystem out there:
    • NSA
    • CIA
    • Google
    • Facebook
    • And 1.8 million people recently affected by a hack at Square!

    These very valid points raised by the security community are not answered in the documentation and this would be a huge SCORE, huge ACCESS and a huge DATA carrot for hackers (i.e., a huge jackpot for the reasons hackers' hack, so why wouldn't they give it a go?)
    • Myth of "anonymity" - As you read the official NSTIC documents; you will see they mention the word anonymity frequently. The user is anonymous; their identity is fragmented and doled out piece by piece. Fragmented because your Identity will only be doled out by your ID provider small bits at a time on an as needed basis to say your bank or favorite forum for access.
      However, what the documents don't seem to say (and maybe I missed it), but the video does very clearly, THE IDENTITY PROVIDER SEES EVERYTHING. That Identity Provider who has no laws restricting what they do with that data. That Identity Provider who now has all your data in one place. Who you bank with, what medical records you store, your tax info, what you did with PayPal, and if Google possibly your email, your apps, your G+ and well you can see where the rabbit hole goes.
      So the speakers on the video are careful to use the word - "pseudo-anonymity" and when they don't the speakers quickly correct to the word "pseudo-anonymity". Because that is what you have, not anonymity, but pseudo-anonymity because your Identity Provider can see everything. In addition, remember there is no privacy and without governance, the provider can do with your data what they want.
    • Myth of "privacy" - The documents focus on anonymity also has a focus on privacy. Well the same reasons your data is not anonymous are the same reasons your data is not private. Now let's take it one step further, your data is now ONE HUGE DATA CARROT.
      One huge data carrot on a 3rd party system. Legally 3rd party systems do not give you due process. What does this mean? This means that if someone sues you, if someone you know is sued, if the government wants to look into your doings online they do not need to notify you, in fact they don't actually need a warrant in all cases. The legal protections of 3rd party data are feeble at best and getting less, not more secure every day. So, the idea that the NSTIC is private is more mythology.
      So privacy and anonymity are pretty, bright and shiny words, but at this time meaningless in practical applicable context, because they require governance which is surely coming right?
    • Myth of "governance" - "Without governance there is no privacy, there is no anonymity." These words come directly from the video. In the NSTIC there is no governance over the data that is being collected by the "Trusted Identity Providers" such as Google and PayPal (and soon to be Facebook). There is no law saying what they can or cannot do with that information, it is what you agree to in the TOS (Terms of Service). You read that right?
      I could go more into this, but instead I will just bullet point some of the recent areas being defended by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), the ones who try to keep your cyber land free and privacy still your right, and let you see just where and how these laws get tested every day.
      Specific Cases (a few)

      One important note though, if your data is sitting on someone else's servers you usually never have to be informed of anyone's access to it, if the third party decides to give it to them and this means even in cases of the courts, government or law enforcement. This also means there are many cases where due process also doesn't exist. The company owns the data. The company decides. On this single point alone, the NSTIC framework should be met with deep contemplative exercise.


    So welcome to the new internet! The concepts of the NSTIC framework are also playing itself out in Facebook right now with Timeline... Read the NSTIC then use Timeline. You will see what I mean. No log-ins to major sites, don't go there to interact, just stay on Facebook.
    All your data will be held by your Identity Provider free to do with that data what they wish or even if they don't wish, a court can order it handed over.
    Now with Trusted Providers, I am sure some will be good, some will be poor, but in the end your data will be seen, tracked and know by that provider. All you do, everywhere you log-in today, instead of segmented across many sites, in one place, all activity. Sorry just got a chill. Need to go get a blanket!
    Ok back to your eggnog and yes and yes FINISH THE VIDEO! Happy New Year!

    Additional Documentation

NSTIC Documentation (Note this is a worldwide, not just US effort) Just to show this is not conjecture and a few to many apple martinis. Here is the documentation to help you better understand that entire Identity Ecosystem, from the Federal Government and Google themselves.


Google Plus to reach 400m members by end of 2012

Well it seems Google Plus isn't short of people willing to give it a try. It now has 62 million members, according to an analyst, and it's growing by 625,000 every single day, Bloomberg reports. Not only that, the analyst thinks growth will accelerate, making it reach 400 million members by the end of next year. Considering Facebook has 800 million, that's quite some growth.
OK, so it would be half the size of Facebook if Mark Zuckerberg's project didn't grow any more, but you get the idea.
Paul Allen is the man with the stats, which he announced on Google Plus, fittingly enough. He says almost a quarter of all members signed up in December alone. "It may be the holidays, the TV commercials [in the US The Muppets are advertising the social network], the Android 4 signups, celebrity and brand appeal, or positive word of mouth, or a combination of all these factors, but there is no question that the number of new users signing up for Google Plus each day has accelerated markedly in the past several weeks," he wrote.

If the rate of 625,000 a day continues, it's set to reach 293 million members by the end of 2012, but Allen thinks it'll increase. He points to the 700,000 Android devices activated daily as a sure sign of growth, if Google can integrate Plus into its other products and services. (Those 4 million devices activated over Christmas won't hurt either.)
Google Plus opened to the public in September. Allen's numbers don't say how many members remain active, however. Last month, some stats suggested over half the network's first 15 million members hadn't been back a week after joining, the Telegraph reports. And one of Google's own engineers may disagree with Allen.


Google: Five things to look for in 2012

The Web giant is under investigation both domestically and abroad for allegedly abusing its powerful position as the leader in Internet search. And rivals are suing Google and its partners as the company expands into markets where they're already competing.

So even as Google works to improve its search engine and bolster emerging businesses such as its Google+ social network, it will be worth keeping tabs on the regulators, lawmakers, and judges who will play a significant role in the company's business going forward.

Here are five things to look for in 2012:

1. Antitrust decisions in the U.S. and EU

Regulators both in the United States and abroad are closing in on Google. The Federal Trade Commission began a "formal review" of Google's strategies for building its search business, as well as the tactics it's used to bake search into its Android mobile operating system. The European Commission is investigating whether Google has unfairly manipulated search results by lowering the rankings of competing services and elevating its own offerings in unpaid results. And the Korean Fair Trade Commission is gathering information about Google allegedly limiting access to rival search engines on its Android mobile operating system

Those inquiries may well come to a head in 2012. It seems likely that U.S. trustbusters will want to resolve the matter before the presidential election, in part because the possibility of a new administration could lead to a different approach with regard to applying antitrust law to search.

European regulators have been looking into Google's tactics for more than a year now. That investigation is said to be approaching a ruling. The European Commission is also reviewing Google's pending bid to acquire Motorola Mobility, and regulators there recently suspended that review until Google produces additional documents that the agency said are essential to its evaluation.

The challenge for regulators, if they determine that Google has acted unlawfully, is coming up with an appropriate solution. They could make it more difficult for Google to acquire companies. The bigger fear for Google, if it gets slapped, is a remedy that restricts its conduct regarding search. That may well mean some sort of regulatory structure over the way Google generates search results.

2. Google steps up patent defenses

Google continues to be embroiled in patent litigation. Oracle has sued Google, while Microsoft and Apple have either sued or threatened to sue companies that make devices that run Google's Android and Chrome operating systems. Google has largely struggled to combat the challenges, leading the company's chief legal officer, David Drummond, to blog about "a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents."

Whether Android infringes on patents will ultimately be decided by the courts. But the biggest challenge for Google is that it's put itself in the vulnerable position of having a relatively tiny patent portfolio with which to defend itself. That's because, in intellectually property litigation, a company with a patent threatens to sue, or actually sues, another company that it believes has infringed on its innovation. The common defense is for the accused company to find one of its own patents that the accusing company has infringed upon and threaten a countersuit. That gives it the ammunition to propose cross-licensing deals that keep both companies out of court.

Google's thin patent portfolio has made it a bigger target. That's one key reason, Google Chief Executive Larry Page said, why the Web giant is purchasing Motorola Mobility. Sure, the company is a key Android customer. But it's also a huge holder of mobile-device patents, something that should help Google protect itself against future litigation. Google will likely continue to acquire patents in the new year to bolster its defenses.

3. Making search more social

Bradley Horowitz, one of the top Google+ executives, recently said, "We've shipped the 'Plus,' now we're beginning to ship the 'Google.'" His point is that simply creating the social network wasn't the goal. The company is busily weaving other Google properties and technologies--such as YouTube, videoconferencing, and integration with the Android mobile operating system--through it.

But watch for Google to use the knowledge it gleans from those on the social network to make search more relevant. The more Google learns about users, through the comments or companies that they click on the "+1" tab, the smarter Google search results can be for those users. There's a good chance that users will want to read news articles, for example, that their Google+ connections have liked. The more Google+ learns about users, the more it can translate that information into more relevant search results.

Ultimately, Google is aiming to do more than provide Web surfers with links. It wants to answer their questions. Right now, it can predict what queries users are after before they finish typing the words. It can provide weather forecasts and answers to mathematical equations rather than simply issuing links. Going forward, Google wants to anticipate searchers' needs without them having to explicitly ask each and every time. Google+ will help give them more tools to do so.

4. Further Android fragmentation

Google's mobile-phone fortunes have soared on the back of its Android mobile operating system. Since launch in 2007, Android has leapfrogged Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iOS to become the most widely used smartphone operating system. But with several device makers creating Android phones and tablets, and even tweaking the operating system to fit their needs, the user experience often varies from device to device.

Take the slick Motorola Droid Razr, a trim, snappy phone that runs Android 2.3, dubbed Gingerbread. Shortly after it debuted, Google released Android 4.0, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, and Samsung released the Galaxy Nexus, running the latest version. The Droid Razr? It's still on Gingerbread. Eventually, it will get Ice Cream Sandwich. But it's unclear when.

Fragmentation isn't a problem until one version of an Android device can't run the latest operating system, or a cool new application designed for it. Google acknowledged the challenge at its I/O conference in the spring, saying it would work with manufacturers and wireless carriers to develop guidelines to help get updates to devices more quickly. But it's not really clear that Google will take the issue seriously because the Android market continues to grow.

5. Chrome market share climbs

A little kerfuffle emerged earlier this month when Web research firm StatCounter noted that Google's Chrome 15 was more widely used in the last week of November than Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8. The tumult, of course, is caused by the fact that Internet Explorer has long been the browser leader. And when you add up all the versions of IE in use, it's far and away the top browser worldwide.

But there's little doubt that Chrome share is on the rise. And that's crucial for Google because the browser gives the company the ability to push the Web standards it favors as they emerge. What's more, Google seems to be moving beyond the notion, floated when Chrome launched in 2008, that its browser was primarily about enabling people to see Web pages faster.

These days, Google is encouraging developers to create Web apps for Chrome that users can get through the Chrome Web store. Already, users can add Angry Birds, a scoreboard from Major League Baseball, and Rdio's music streaming service. As Chrome grows, expect that business to follow.


Google Disconnect, Block Google From Tracking You

Google, through its web properties and services, can track a large number of Internet users. This happens on Google websites such as Google Search, Google Plus or Maps, but also on third party websites that embed Google Adsense, Analytics or other widgets and scripts that the company offers.

Internet users who feel that the tracking goes to far can install programs that disable the tracking. This ranges from the excellent NoScript add-on for the Firefox web browser or the Disconnect extension for the Google Chrome web browser.

If you want to block Google from tracking your every move, you’d could install Google Disconnect for the Firefox web browser. The add-on has been created by Brian Kennish, who is also responsible for the Facebook Disconnect extension which blocks website communication with Facebook.

Google Disconnect works similar to that extension, with the difference that it is blocking communication with Google servers. The Firefox add-on blocks Google scripts running on websites. This includes Google Adsense, Analytics and Google Plus. It is likely that additional scripts are blocked as well, but the Firefox add-on description is not providing enough information to tell which.

All Google services that you may use, Google Mail or Search for instance, continue to work as before. The extension is rather bare bones at the moment. Next to the missing list of services that it blocks, it is also not providing any visual indicators that scripts have been blocked. Options to block only select scripts are missing as well.

I have tested the add-on by opening websites that make use of Google services in Firefox with the script enabled, and in Google Chrome without the script. I also looked at the source code to make sure that the scripts were indeed not loaded at all.

Google Disconnect can be downloaded and installed at the official Mozilla add-on repository.


Google+ Gets No. 3 Position Amongst Major Social Networking Hubs

While Facebook is the untouched star of social networking sites, Google+ seems to follow in close proximity with its No. 2 contender site in 2011.

Google+ has more than just the mega search engine advantage but also equal backup from other Google products like the Youtube when it comes to interconnecting these popular online 'hangouts' globally. It is just about 7 months since its release that Google+ has received heavy reviews and even some negative ones that once said that it would not make it huge in the already competitive social media arena. However, Google+ has now proved it wrong and essentially hit a global number of 150 milllion users recorded this December. At this pace, there is no denying that it would leave back the chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo that occupies the second place currently amongst social networking websites and become the 2nd largest and most popular social networking hub itself. Besides, Google+ Hangouts feature is slowly catching in eyeballs from professional webmasters as well as novice users of the site that offers video conferencing features for members of this site. Also, your favorite YouTube is interconnected with Google+ as it is quite apparent for the site users. 

Google+ promotions is a big deal when it comes to businesses as well, as Google has clearly sorted the use of Google+ circles and other prominent features beneficial to grow online business networks and maintain cordial customer relationships. 

GlobalWebIndex gives a 8 point overview of this graphical evidence of Google+'s popularity.

While Social Network big players like Facebook lacks just the search engine advantage (which on second thoughts must not be underestimated as 'just' the search engine advantage) it still seems to reign high in the users list. However, Google+ is like a celebrity child that is born with the user preference advantage that is to land it on the sure ladder (or more aptly escalator) of success in the not so far future.