SEO, both an important part of running a website and also a magnet for unscrupulous individuals and businesses trying to make a fast buck.

We get lots of calls from clients who have received emails from people claiming to be SEO experts. These emails state that the clients website is riddled with errors and that they can help correct these problems and improve search rankings

Here is a copy of one such email I received

Hi,

My name is Anil kumar, and I am Online Marketing Manager at a leading Digital marketing company/SEO and Web Designing Company.

I was analyzing your site and it seems that some of your website rankings have dropped. It is due to non optimized techniques/errors

And Google guidelines not being followed properly. As you know that Google’s crawler is software and work on coding basis only.

That’s why site coding portion should be strong for better results.

I would like to present a detailed analysis of your website along with errors that your website and ways to improve your Google rankings.

It would be a detailed report and would be explained as well on phone once we send this over to you.

Please let me know if we can discuss this.

Thanks,
Anil kumar
Online Marketing Manager

Now, improving your rankings is important. It is something that you should be looking at. However, these emails are problematic for a number of reasons

  1. Despite stating they have analyzed the website, I expect that in 99% of cases this is not true.
  2. These are untargeted spam emails.
  3. Their skill level is unknown, with no website for reference and only using a gmail address for email.
  4. In some cases the lack of skill in writing emails in English may cause concern if your website is in English.

All in all, you are better to talk with your current web designer about SEO and how they can help you. They know your website, know what has been done in the past and are in the best position to either help you out or give advice on how you could get exert help for this.

Don’t fall prey to the SEO scammers

I felt I had to send a submission around the Bill to expand the surveillance powers for the GCSB, It is being conducted under urgency and only allowed a couple of days for submissions. There are a number of issues with this of which I submitted around 3 of them.

You can submit your own submission here. Thanks to @Farmgeek for a helpful submissions guide that you can see here


 

Thank you for the opportunity to file a submission relating to this bill.

Whilst I understand the need for certain secrecy around matters relating to National Security, the method as to which this bill is being passed and the content of the bill gives cause for concern.

Namely:

  1. Urgency – In the past few years, this government has a tendency to pass unpopular bills under urgency. Urgency is not to be used to suppress dialogue and discussion on topics of importance to the nation. In addition, given the recent past performance of the GCSB, SIS and government in relation to surveillance matters, proper discussion of these matters is not only the right thing to do, but imperative to allay fears of collusion and heavy handedness.
  2. There is nothing to indicate why the current laws are inadequate to deal with these new issues. These are the expanding of powers rather than the creation of unique solutions. This indicates that current laws would be sufficient if applied correctly.
  3. Broadening the scope of the SIS/GCSB powers effectively breaks down the required barriers between the separate areas (Police,GCSB etc) which in turn opens up the abuse of these powers. While the phrase “efficiency” or “expediency” may be used, these also need to be matched up against “safeguards” and “proper process”. In short the quickest way may not be the best way.

In short, with a bill of such importance, not allowing for full discussion both inside and outside parliament means mistakes will be made that could have disastrous consequences.

Thank you for your time

Regards

Steven Gardner

Tech wise, the world goes through inspired periods of innovation. However, 2013 wasn’t one of those periods.

3D televisions are a dud, music services popped up like daisies, it seemed like such a muddling period.

There were innovative products that were shown and introduced this year, but the strange thing was that they were based on technologies that weren’t new eg: The Oculus Rift

Apple bored us again with incremental refreshes (Thumbprint reader excluded), while Google had a number of blue sky ideas that you weren’t sure whether they were serious or not eg Project Loon.

The main product for me that really got people excited was a small TV gadget called the Chromecast, It plugs into the back of your TV and allows media to be played across your WIFI network through your TV. So far only a few services work, such as Netflix, Youtube, Google Play, but the concept is an awesome one. (Unfortunately not available in NZ)

The early signs of CES this year seem that 2014 will be a year of further consolidation. The improvement of earlier innovation into usable and clever devices that will have a real impact on users.

Smart watches made a ripple last year, Samsung making the loudest attempt. But it was still essentially an early stab at things, with updates needed to make it truly useful.

Advancements in battery life, data plans and mobile platforms in general make this maturing of the last few years of gadgets something that I am looking forward to.

CES is often the place you see pie in the sky ideas put forward as the future of tech. Many of these things never see the light of day. But I sense that this year some of the previous years goofy stuff will find it’s way (or the technology it is based on) into real products this year.

However, we may be still waiting for the wow moment of 2014 when this year ends.

What do you think we will see this year? Who will produce the must have product that we never thought we needed?

There have been plenty of recent stories of invasions of privacy, from website leaks, hacks and releasing of customer data, to privacy policies on websites that are encourage the sharing of more and more information.

What are we willing to give up, what is the price of your privacy.

Now that we have proof of Governments snooping on even it’s own citizens, this question is even more important.

I believe that Governments need access to certain information to help protect it’s citizens and am not really surprised to hear of the capability that is being used.

What does surprise me more (and it probably shouldn’t) is the abuse of power that these agencies appear to be using.

Having specific targets to go and find information about seems to be the right balance, rather than the blanket hoovering up of data that seems to be happening.

One of the latest outcomes is a letter from the US Senate to the Director of Intelligence James Clapper spelling out that having a “secret body of law” described as deliberate reinterpretations of terms used in the industry is unacceptable and summoning Clapper to provide more specific responses without these reinterpretations.

Whether they can bring themselves to do this remains to be seen, but each leak published by the Guardian and other media outlets will cause more and more embarrassment to the US government. Even now, they are having to have diplomatic talks with allies that they have alleged to have been spying on.

Clearly with this information now in the public domain, if agencies are lying to their bosses to hide this kind of activity, then how can we really know what is going on in our governments.

Trust that laws and processes are being followed have really been all that has kept things in line. A clear breach of this trust could be very problematic and as more revelations are disclosed, the further that trust is eroded. Would a change of government fix this? Not necessarily, as the people voted into office are not the ones who have been found out. Changes at the top of the agencies may be the only way forward.

So maybe the original question needs to be amended. Rather than “What is the price of our privacy?” should it be “What is the price on our safety?”

 

So Much To Look Forward To

2013-tech-trendsWell it is now the new year, resolutions have come and (for many) gone.

Following on the from an interesting end of the year, this one carries much promise.

New contacts, new partnerships and a bunch of amazing clients mean it will be a most interesting year.

Taking a wider view, upcoming and recent events including Mr .Com’s new initiative to seemingly circumvent copyright and, from the coverage of CES this year, the convergence of many of the areas of tech.

Further through they year, we will get our obligatory iWhatever release, of which we are certain the features that could have been released this year (but held back) will make an appearance.

Will they be thinner, will they be lighter? Probably.

Who will die first? RIM when Blackberry10 fails or Nokia, when Windows 8 doesn’t bring them the sales they need.

Will Apple buy their way into mapping that won’t get you lost?

Will WindowsRT disappear as soon as the Pro (read: actually ready) version ships?

So many questions, so much meh!

I want to be wowed by something that stands out, makes everyone sit back. Everything so far seems to be all about minor upgrades to suck the last of our upgrade dollars from us.

Who do you think will provide the spark? Apple? Google? Amazon?

Spotify Launches in NZ, have we arrived?

As Spotify launches in NZ, does this mark a bit of a turning of the corner for the internet world in NZ?

Now Spotify is not the largest property on the internet that NZ has been waiting for, but I think it is a significant step in the right direction for many reasons.

Firstly it is a widely loved streaming service that has slowly made it’s way across the globe. Unsurprisingly, NZ is not early on the release timetable, but with it’s launch here we do not have to look longingly offshore for another service out of our reach.

Second, it is another legal content service to be added to the few currently in NZ. With Quick Flix and TV Ondemand peoples choices are becoming wider with more content online. Add Spotify (and Rdio) to the mix and online content is becoming more and more compelling. With the Commerce Commission’s investigation of SkyTV, their tying up of the distribution rights to many items of content will be under more scrutiny.

Is this  the start of a change to an avalanche of online services and will it bring the choice that we have been calling out for.

Will it take something like Netflix to finally push it over the edge?

I want to see more content via the internet, whether I consume it via my PC (which is the only way I can at the moment) or via an internet connected TV, we should be given the choice for content and the distribution.

I think the traditional rule makers in this industry need to change their thinking. What they need to do is work out, in a blue sky way, how consumers have all of their needs fulfilled. Build that infrastructure and then build the monetisation around that. Currently, there are hanging on to the shreds of their old model and squeezing it for everything they can get.

They know that things are changing, but they are not bold enough to make the step willingly.

Maybe they need a push

 

Rugby World Cup – can I say that?

So after 6 or so weeks, the 2011 Rugby World cup finishes with the final tonight pitting the hosts New Zealand against their bogey team France.

Now while I expect the All Blacks to win, I don’t think it will be as easy as some are predicting.

The only way I see the French having achance is if they come out with huge intensity and get over 14 points clear in the first 20 minutes.

Then doubt would come in and spoil the AB’s gameplan.

However, I expect a score of around 25 – 13

Come on NZ, win the tournament playing the best rugby – not just winning rugby, but winning rugby that is entertaining to watch!

We Don’t Want to Watch What You Want Us to Watch

Especially when you want us to watch it.

Times are changing in TV land.

While we in NZ still have restrictive broadband limitations in speed and monthly data caps, the world moves ahead in the use of streaming video.

Offerings such as Hulu and Netflix, plus streaming options through other providers such as Amazon mean that video delivered over the internet is dominating internet traffic in those markets.

But even in New Zealand, on demand video is becoming more and more prevalent. MySky allows for easy recording and playback of shows from SkyTV’s plethora of channels and the free to air networks have the OnDemand services where you can catch up on shows you have missed only a day later.

But what this “on demand” method of consuming video (and audio) does, is it puts the control of the content back into the viewers hands.

Apart from live events such as sport, where the “watching it live” component is eminently important, most other forms of TV or movies can be consumed at the viewers leisure. No more checking the TV guide and planning your life around when a particular show is on, just watch it when you like.

Imagine a world where you can pick and choose all of the shows you want to watch with no reliance on date and time.

What impact could this have on the different parts of the ecosystem?

Producers of Content: Major producers might be more selective of what content they invest in and so the number of productions might reduce in size (possibly better funded). Independent producers of content such as the Twit Network may be encouraged to produce more content to fill the gaps left my changed in major network production.

Advertisers: Much improved analytics and viewer statistics will allow for much more targeted advertising. Ads for lower rating shows will reflect those lower ratings and advertisers can get a real idea as to the viewership of their ad portfolio.

Consumers: Fringe shows (from the current model) will become even more marginalised until they disappear. Niche shows will be created by nimble producers focussed on fanatical audiences. The only scheduled shows will be live events.

I like this future as it enables true choice for the consumer and a better experience.

Illegal File Sharing Bill Shows All That is Bad with Politics

There are plenty of people who are a bit angry today.

Make that really angry.

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill is a contentious bill with history of internet protest. Maybe the knowledge that more highly visible protest would precede any passing of this bill caused the government to rush the Bill through parliament under urgency.

While the Bill has been changed to be more balanced than in it’s early incarnations, it’s termination clause was still a reason to protest.

But what this really highlighted, was not so much the content of the Bill itself, but the politics surrounding it.

Admissions from National politicians, that discussions with other countries over free trade talks were a consideration, gave a feeling that there were underhanded reasons for what was happening last night.

So what is urgency? Here is a link to the NZ Parliament site that explains:

The House of Representatives sometimes goes into “urgency” to make progress on business additional to what would be possible under the normal rules for sitting hours and progress of business.

Now this session of Urgency was called to deal with legislation related to the Christchurch Earthquake. However, completely unrelated business can be added.

Given that Copyright issues have absolutely nothing to do with the earthquake, one can make the following assumptions:

  • The Government had some other agenda (Maybe this was part of the free trade negotiations)
  • Pressure was being applied by supporters of the Bill (In this case the likely supporters are Record and Movie companies)
  • By passing under urgency, with no notice, anticipated protest could be held to a minimum

Regardless of your opinions on the pros and cons of the “Three Strikes” and final sanction of internet account holder suspension, the conduct of the MP’s who were in the debating chamber last night made for some interesting insights.

I was up watching Parliament TV streaming online here, so were many others, possibly giving Parliament TV it’s best ratings ever. Alongside my stream was my Twitter feed and especially the comments tagged with #blackout.

It was an amazing and compelling evening of watching most MP’s wallow in their abject understanding of the topic they were debating, while those interested spectators spouted vitriol towards them via Social Media.

Special mention must go to Gareth Hughes (@GarethMP), Jacinda Adren (@jacindaardern) and Clare Curran (@clarecurranmp) who seemed to at least have a working understanding of what was being discussed.

Brickbats go to Melissa Lee and Jonathan Young who seemed so unsure of the terminology and the concepts being discussed that they are now stars in their own parodies of themselves.

Quite how a piece of legislation can be debated by those who are completely unqualified and also when key players are away (The Minister of Commerce, Simon Power) is amazing, maybe there should be a quiz before entering the chamber to test the knowledge of those wanting to participate in the debate.

As of this morning, the Bill was passed, with both Labour and National voting for, with the Greens the majority of those opposed.

It won’t spell the end of the internet, but the political process has exposed to many as a farce.

It seems the Greens got a few more supporters last night. Will it make a difference come election day?

iPad2 – a bit of a yawn?

You are either one or you are not.

Most definitely I am not. It harkens back to the day when I was at University and spent the entire 3 years of my computer science degree and did not touch a PC at all.

Now, I have always thought that Universities are supposed to prepare you for your career after you leave, but to not even use a PC is a bit of a joke.

Anyway, we used Apple computers for the first two years doing programming and other things. My flatmate was an Apple devotee, I was not. I can see the design aesthetics, I can sometimes see the usability benefits. But I much preferred my PC.

Zoom forward nearly 20 years and we have now have two iterations of the iPad.

I am using one (v1) at the moment for a client project and so have had quite a play with it.

It’s nice, it’s easy to use (for some things) and it makes my kids go all gooey, but it still leaves me cold.

My smartphone and my laptop seem to be a better combination that the iPad. It just seems to me to be a device that does things OK, but it doesn’t seem to fit a need.

What is there that the iPad can do that other devices can’t? What is it that made it a “must have” device?

Seeing the recent launch hysteria of the iPad 2 makes me wonder if it is any better than the original.

Can anyone help me out with this one?