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Google+ A Ghost Town? Maybe It’s Your Fault

I know you’ve heard it: Google Plus is a ghost town. A quick search for “Google Plus ghost town” turns up plenty of results. But is that criticism really warranted? I don’t believe it is. But the perception remains and I believe the fault lies in the mirror with how we use the network. So, what can we do about it? Read on and I’ll show you how you can turn your Google Plus ghost town into a boomtown.

Both Sides Claim a Victory in the FTC Case Against Google

googleThe 19-month, FTC investigation into Google’s policies and practices has come to an end and both parties are declaring themselves the winner.

Here’s the announcement from the Official Google Blog:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today announced it has closed its investigation into Google after an exhaustive 19-month review that covered millions of pages of documents and involved many hours of testimony. The conclusion is clear: Google’s services are good for users and good for competition.

Here’s the FTC’s version:

Google Inc. has agreed to change some of its business practices to resolve Federal Trade Commission concerns that those practices could stifle competition in the markets for popular devices . . . as well as the market for online search advertising.

Google’s Encrypted Search Meets the Myopic SEO

If there was a ever a group of people that can have blinders on when it comes to how the rest of the world views the online space it’s the SEO crowd. Now the SEO world has been given a new thing to fret over and it should be fodder for hand wringing blog posts from now until whenever.

Google has announced that over the near future they will be rolling out encrypted search results which will limit the tracking of search traffic in a way that makes the numbers crowd nervous. Here is some information about why this is happening from the Google blog.

Google Hand-Holds Congress Through Privacy Concerns

Google must be getting paranoid by now. I bet Larry Page can’t fart without getting a letter from Congress these days.

The latest Congressional attention of course comes from the latest privacy scandal to hit the Internet. Oh, I’m sorry, I must have channeled my inner sensationalistic blogger for that last line. The only thing that has really happened, at least as Google says it of course, is the consolidation of privacy policies. That idea was enough to get members of Congress to get their hands out of lobbyists pockets and realize that the cameras might be rolling in an election year so they jumped to attention and called Google to protect your interests (wink, wink, nod, nod).

Google responded on their Public Policy Blog

Google Places: Lots of Hype But What About the Clicks?

Reading through the responses that Google compiled to some of the claims being made against the company by the likes of Yelp, NexTag, FairSearch and more there was one piece of information that jumped out at me with a claim and Google’s response.

CLAIM: “Is a consumer (or a small business, for that matter) well served when Google artificially promotes its own properties regardless of merit? This has nothing to do with helping consumers get to the best information; it has everything to do with generating more revenue.”

RESPONSE: In fact, most of the click traffic (roughly two-thirds of clicks) from our local search result pages goes directly to small business websites, and review sites make up the next largest percentage (about a quarter of clicks). Less than 10% of clicks from our local results page go to Google Place Pages.

Search Neutrality?

As expected it looks like this week may be a bit light in the news department. That’s fine. Everyone needs a break from time to time. So as I am looking around this morning I come across an op-ed piece in the New York Times that is written by Adam Raff, a co-founder of Foundem, an Internet technology company.

From what I can gather, Mr. Raff is upset that his site was banned from Google’s index. There is no explanation as to why this happened so I am not going to assume anything although an article from eConsultancy looks at his plight and we get some insight as to why Google is so ‘mean’ to him. As a result, Mr. Raff contends that Google simply is too powerful and that the government should be considering a ‘search neutrality’ platform that falls in line with the ‘net neutrality’ platform. Here is a bit of his concern:

Google Local Business Center Now Google Places

In what is largely just a name change with a few new twists, Google has changed its Local Business Center to Google Places. It makes sense considering that an actual business listing in the Local Business Center was called a place page then why not clean things up a little, right?

Search Engine Land Reports

Google has decided to change the name of what was called the “Google Local Business Center” to “Google Places.” The rationale, according to the press release, is to better connect Google Place Pages with the place where local business information is claimed, entered and enhanced:

Why? Millions of people use Google every day to find places in the real world, and we want to better connect Place Pages – the way that businesses are being found today – with the tool that enables business owners to manage their presence on Google.