Happy Birthday Google!

Google turns 20.

In two brief decades, it built the second most powerful brand in the world, behind Apple.
It transformed a misspelled math term into a verb – just google to find the correct spelling. Thankfully, founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page dropped the original name, which was BackRub. “Hey, did you BackRub that new intern?” would surely raise eyebrows in every HR department across the land.

Every second, 40,000+ searches happen on Google.
Watch the counter here to make your eyes spin. That translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day, or 1.2 trillion per year. I can’t really grasp how much a billion is, much less a trillion, but Google directed me to a guy named Herb on YouTube who provided a visual of himself standing on top of a trillion dollars in Lambeau Field, and it’s impressive. In the US, Google generates 63% of all core search queries, but over 93% of all mobile search. At the time of this writing, one share of Google is worth $1,175.18.

So, what are some of the most googled searches?
Google Trends shared the top searches since 2004 and here are a some of the categories. Try answering these without looking at the answers below* – and no googling!

  1. Number 1 “How to…” question. (Hint, it is not “How to lose weight?”, that’s number 2.)
  2. The top searched “What is…” question
  3. The number 1 “Why is…” question
  4. The most searched Best Picture film
  5. The top searched flight destination in the US (this one may surprise you)

Google upended marketing.

They didn’t do it alone of course.
The powerful Google search engine changed the marketing world from a push environment to a pull one, where customers dictate when, where and how they will engage with businesses.

SEO strategy and execution is a critical marketing function, driven by Google’s relentless push to improve the search experience.
According to Search Engine Land, 77.8% of US search ad revenue went to Google in 2017. Digital marketers pay anywhere from under a dollar to $50 or more for a click, with the average cost per click across all industries at $2.69. Smart phones, dominated by Android/Google, ushered in a new emphasis on location-based SEO. According to HubSpot, local search leads 50% of mobile users to visit stores within one day, and to repeat, Google drives 93% of all mobile search traffic (some sources say 96%, but what’s a few points when you’re that strong?)

The next developing search trend that marketers will need to prepare for is voice search.
Google regards speech recognition as core to the future of search. The “OK Google” app is much easier to use than thumb-entering a search phrase, and online retail sales via home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are projected to grow from $2 billion to $40 billion by 2022, according to USA Today. Though it’s just getting momentum, it’s already been observed that voice search may be used in different context than keyboard search, and the differences will be important for marketers to understand.

Today, the Google organization is way more than a search engine and an ad revenue machine.
The Google brand lives under the Alphabet umbrella, which houses a smorgasbord of technology companies ranging from life sciences to driverless cars and robotics. With 20 years of disruptive innovation behind it, there’s sure to be more that will keep marketers on their toes. To that we say, “Happy birthday Google, and keep it coming!”

*Answers to questions above:

  1. How to tie a tie?
  2. What time is it?
  3. Why is the sky blue?
  4. Titanic
  5. Japan

Wondering how to use the power of SEO and Google advertising to grow your business?
We have solutions. Let’s talk.

Why you should care about National Aglet Day.

Aglets are those plastic tips on shoelaces.

You should not care about National Aglet Day.

National Aglet Day doesn’t even exist. But wait: Why not? We have a National Day for cheeseballs, rubber erasers and lumpy rugs. (Fact!) Why are aglets just flat-out ignored? If you’re saying “Because they are not important enough to get their own day,” I would ask you to remove the aglets from one of your shoelaces. Do it right now, please. I’m waiting. Now that you have done that (I trust you), take the lace out of your shoe and try to re-lace it without the aglets. Okay now tell me they don’t deserve a day.

How National Days get designated.

I have no idea how National Days get designated. I’m assuming there is a secure location somewhere in DC—perhaps an underground bunker—where government employees gather to try to think of things that don’t already have a day. (This work gets harder and harder.) Maybe these people used to work in the Postage Stamp Division—but nobody buys stamps anymore and since a worker cannot get fired within the city limits of our nation’s capitol (by law), they get sent over to the National Day Research Bunker (NDRB).

It’s true about the cheeseballs, the rubber erasers and the lumpy rugs.

They have days. America did this. The rest of the world wants to know why.

Yet another thing dividing our country—National Licorice Day.

Why did the NDRB give a day to licorice? Were they “persuaded” by Big Licorice? The thing is, you either love licorice or you hate it. By giving licorice a slot on the calendar, all the NDRB accomplished was to assign an official day for the pro-licorice faction and the anti-licorice faction to swarm into the streets and clobber each other. Consider that National Licorice Day is April 12th, which is also the day the Civil War started. Coincidence? Ha!

You know what doesn’t have its own day? Days.

It would make total sense to have a National Day Day. Think about it: when the nation agreed to designate a National Beaver Day, it was our way of saying dammit, beavers are super-important (probably)! Well, the nation clearly thinks days are super-important, or we wouldn’t have a whole bunker devoted to naming them. So let’s honor the long-disrespected “day“ with its own day. (If you’re not following all this because you’re still thinking about National Beaver Day, it’s the last Friday in February. Now please focus.)

Beaver Day and Groundhog Day are both in February. I mean come on!

Aren’t they the same animal, except beavers build dams? Even if they’re different species, they’re hard to tell apart if you’re too lazy to Google it. The NDRB should spread these things out. It would be like giving June both Popsicle Day and Lollipop Day. You can’t honor two sweet-treats-on-a-stick in the same month!

Does Canada do this? Please say no.

I want to believe that Canada does not have a bunker and it leaves calendar days pretty much alone except for maybe National Mounty Day in spring and National Hockey Day in winter. If Canada is indeed that intelligent, the U.S. should designate a National Canada Day just to honor Canada for being smarter than us—as proven by the fact that the United States was stupid enough to designate a National Canada Day.

Greatest Hits of National Days.

Everybody’s list would be different but mine would certainly include National Caramel Day (April 5) and National Caramel Popcorn Day (April 6). Obviously, sitting in a windowless bunker makes former stamp workers a little giddy. Because after they came up with that “two-caramel-related-days-in-a-row” gag, they hit us with National All is Ours Day—which sounds kind of Zen but also, possibly, a symptom of oxygen deprivation.

I downloaded a list of National Days.

Why? I don’t know. I feel embarrassed about it now. I think I was trying to fill some kind of void—an emptiness inside that nothing can ever really fill. Certainly not a list of National Days. Let’s move on.

Got a product or service that doesn’t have a National Day?

It is unlikely your product does not already have a day. However! If you are one of the rare exceptions, call us. Our digital marketing team is ready and waiting to develop a campaign aimed at swaying the NDRB to your side. We’d start with an A/B email test, followed by a retargeting campaign. Our goal would be to attract your bunker-dwelling target to a landing page optimized to drive conversion. Success would be defined as getting your company’s product on that list of National Days, and into the hearts and minds of calendar users everywhere.

Size does not matter, at least for hackers

Why your business is not “too small to be hacked.”

When many business owners read about huge cyberattacks  like the one that hit Equifax, they’re interested, but not overly worried. They tend to believe that they, themselves aren’t at risk for a similar breach, because their business isn’t “big enough” to attract the attention of a would-be hacker. Unfortunately, the nature of today’s cybercrime means that each and every business is at risk, regardless of size—and in fact, small businesses are much more highly targeted than large ones. Here’s why.

Real hackers don’t wear hoodies

Countless movies and TV shows have popularized the image of the lone, hoodied hacker, bent over his keyboard as neon numbers flash over his head while he carries out his nefarious work. While this image works great for creating a sense of drama, it obscures the fact that most hacks aren’t performed by humans at all. Most cyberattacks are carried out by robots which attack thousands of sites at the same time, otherwise known as a “brute force” attack. These bots don’t really discern between big sites and small ones—they simply throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. As long as your business is in their firing range, you’re a target—no matter what assets you have.

Small businesses are targeted more than large ones

Of course, there are humans at the helm of every cyberattack, and they do make decisions about the general areas they’d like to target. While most people might think that hackers go after the big money—huge credit bureaus, law firms, and accounting firms bristling with super-sensitive data—they are actually far more likely to target small businesses. In 2017, for instance, over 70% of cyberattacks targeted businesses making $60,000 a year or less.

Why? It’s simple—small businesses are easy money. Small businesses are much less likely to set up security software, delete unused admin accounts, and make regular website updates that can minimize their risk of a breach. They’re also far less likely to have audit logs and other data needed to identify the culprit after the fact—meaning someone attacking a small business is far less likely to get caught and punished.

Think of it like a thief trying to decide which neighborhood to rob. Sure, the big, fancy neighborhoods contain more valuable stuff—but they also have fences, high-tech security systems, and private security patrols. The smaller neighborhoods are likely to have much less barriers to entry, and their TVs are just as nice.

The bottom line: Protect yourself from cyberattacks

The biggest reason small businesses are easier to hack than large ones? They don’t see it coming. Ironically, since small businesses tend to discount themselves as targets, they never take the security precautions that bigger companies do—and thus ensure that they will be targeted at some point.

But lest we sound too doom-and-gloom, there’s a bright side to all this, which is: the vast majority of cyberattacks aren’t very sophisticated. They’re sent out to locate outdated, unprotected websites, and they only succeed because that’s what they find. A few small, simple precautions, like preventative website maintenance, are usually enough to prevent the vast majority of issues.

GDPR Compliance Is Mandatory For All Websites: Are You Prepared?

The GDPR has been implemented for a month. Here’s what’s changed.

The Internet would like to apologize for all the scary-sounding warnings you received over the last month or two. You know the ones we’re talking about. There’s something saying “Our privacy policy has changed” and there’s something else about yadda yadda yadda. Also: the initials GDPR appear, and that sounds like a vast, invisible criminal organization in a 007 movie. You are asked to click a button that says something like “Got it”—but you’re worried that maybe you just agreed to something you’ll regret later.

But the GDPR is not malevolent. It stands for General Data Protection Regulation. The regulation presents a massive overhaul in the way companies process and protect user data, and is set to force sweeping changes in every industry from technology to advertising.

It forces organizations to report data breaches. And they can’t drag their feet about it.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen incidents—such as the Equifax hack—where companies either failed to report a data breach, or took months to do so. (It took Equifax over two months to report its security breach to its clients and investors.)

The GDPR requires organizations to directly notify users when user data is lost or stolen. And they can’t bury it in a press release, on their website, or in a social media post—under the new regulations, companies must directly report breaches to users. Breach notices have to be specific, too, laying out the extent of the hack, the potential consequences, and what’s being done to minimize the damage.

It gets rid of legalese in privacy policies—and requires explicit consent

Back in 2008, one notable study found that if a user were to read every privacy policy he encountered in a year, he’d need to take a month off work—about 244 hours—just to do it. And he’d need a PhD in Linguistics to understand what he was reading; most privacy policies were so cluttered with tech jargon and legalese, they were basically illegible.

The GDPR requires companies to list how they’ll use consumer data in “an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language.” In terms of describing what constitutes clear and plan language, it doesn’t get more specific than that; presumably, this is an intentional decision that will give legal teams more flexibility in the future.

Companies must also ask users to give active, explicit consent to having their data collected, rather than what the GDPR calls “passive acceptance”—a pre-ticked box prefaced by 20 pages of jargon. That consent can be revoked at any time, for any reason.

It requires companies to hold someone accountable

All too often, when a company suffers a data breach, it will try to dodge blame by passing the buck around the organization, arguing over who was responsible. Now, the GDPR requires most large companies to appoint a specific Data Protection Officer whose job is to ensure compliance.

Only companies which perform large-scale behavior tracking, process massive amounts of data, or constitute a public authority will be required to have a Data Protection Officer. However, companies which don’t meet the aforementioned requirements aren’t off the hook; they are defined under the GDPR as “data controllers”, and the third parties they hire are “data processors.” Controllers are responsible for ensuring their data processors are compliant; processors are responsible for reporting breaches immediately; and both parties can be held accountable.

It gives law enforcement sharper teeth

So, what happens to companies who aren’t GDPR compliant? Well, for one thing, they’ll be fined—and these fines are no slap on the wrist. The worst offenders can be fined a maximum of 20 million Euros, or 4% of the company’s annual global turnover, whichever is larger. For some companies, that could mean billions.

If you’re reading this in the U.S., you might be wondering, “Can the EU really enforce a fine on a company in another country?” Put simply, yes. The EU is legally justified under international law to enforce its regulations, and it is likely that U.S. authorities will help it do so.  Since breaches usually don’t have geographical boundaries, the EU and US have a strong relationship when it comes to cybersecurity.

What does the GDPR mean for me?

On the surface, the GDPR is—let’s face it—a bunch of boring-sounding letters. But underneath all the stone-faced legalities is something truly revolutionary: a law created by a foreign government that ended up protecting the entire world.