Tag: google

The day Google broke email: Gmail image caching not showing images

gmail_logoGoogle rolled out Gmail image caching back in early December last year. Now, 6 weeks later, more and more reports are coming from users that images are broken in Gmail. The behaviour is very irratic: at one moment an email opens with all images not loading, but later on a second open shows the images just fine.

Gmail image caching: concerns and effects

This is one of the things I was concerned about when Google announced Gmail image caching in december. One of the other things is dynamic email content. With timers, localization effects and supply status, you could show live email content. But Gmail image caching means every image url is cached on the googleusercontent.com domain and never refreshed. In case you want to show how many items are left of something with an auto-refreshing image, you’re out of luck with Gmail: no can do!

Also, many email service providers use a so-called measuring pixel, which is an invisble (but still existing) image sent with every single email to measure an open and check which email client someone is using. However, because of the Gmail image caching, multiple opens cannot be shown anymore. Also, some ESPs have trouble showing the actual email client used, as actual open is done by Google’s server farm in Mountain View, California USA, and not a person’s actual email client.

In any case, images were still working, and fast enough as well. That is, until now. It started a few days ago, but as of today, many people are noticing irratic image loading (part of an email) or not at all:

gmail-image-caching-image-not-loading-problem

Gmail client: no image for you.

So much for the title ‘images now showing’ – the blog post on the official Gmail blog announcing image caching back on December 12th. I guess images not showing now.

The people over at Movable Ink had also posted about the issue of images not showing in Gmail, but have removed it later. They noted in their post that subsequent email opens load more images, but that is not good enough. Images should be shown all the time.

If the Google servers are not up to the task of caching and showing all images involved in email traffic, then the Gmail caching system should be turned off completely. After all, we all want the best experience for the end user, right?

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Scroogled followup: Pawn Stars and Chromebook

microsoft-google-chromebook-scroogled-gmail-pawn-starsRemember the Scroogled campaign in which Microsoft ridicules Google’s way of showing ads on Gmail content?

Well, there’s a new episode in that saga (or drama). You’d though we were past this finally, but no, apparently Microsoft can’t get enough of it yet.

 

There’s a Pawn Stars inspired Scroogled video over at Bing video which shows the following:

Well ain’t that great. A woman holding a Chromebook takes it into the Gold & Silver pawn shop. Rick Harrison, one of the Pawn Stars stars, asks why the woman thinks it’s worth a ticket to Hollywood. Rick calls it a brick in a behind the scenes scene after that. He then goes on that it’s not a real laptop, as real ones have Office and iTunes that work offline.

I guess it’s time someone woke Microsoft up and told them this Scroogled campaign isn’t doing themselves a favor. First there was the Gmail man, then there was a Scroogled website. It’s all becoming pretty childish and lame – it was like that already from the beginning.

A quote from a post on Marketingland about this:

Again, there haven’t been a lot of horror stories about Chromebook phoning home about everything you do. Certainly the Chrome browser will fetch ahead for certain types of content; I’m fairly sure that Internet Explorer does the same.

If we’re talking ads, Windows 8 has new giant “Hero Ads” that show up baked into the operating system, an extension of other ad options in Windows 8 that people can buy. You can’t buy ads baked into Chromebooks. You just get them the old-fashioned way — in your browser.

At least Google sold a Chromebook to Microsoft for this Scroogled video, that’s a win.

Talking about sales, here’s how the Chromebook has been doing, for instance for Acer:

By January 2013, Acer’s Chromebook sales were being driven by “heavy Internet users with educational institutions”, and the platform represented 5-10 percent of the company’s U.S. shipments, according to Acer president Jim Wong. He called those numbers sustainable, contrasting them with low Windows 8 sales which he blamed for a slump in the market. Wong said that the company would consider marketing Chromebooks to other developed countries, as well as to corporations. He noted that although Chrome OS is free to license for hardware vendors, it has required greater marketing expenditure than Windows, offsetting the licensing savings.[99]

Over the summer of 2013 sales of Chromebooks increased to 3.3% of the market, while sales of Windows and Apple laptops declined. Between June 30 to September 7, 2013 computer sales in general were down with chromebooks the only category that were increasing, with 175,000 units sold.

So wait, in a market plagued by tablet and smartphone sales, Chromebooks were the only type of laptops increasing sales? Hmm, they must be bad indeed. Or is Microsoft just Miscroogsofting us? That sales info came from the Chromebook Wikipedia page.

See the Scroogled – Pawn Stars video here, titled ‘Want laptop value? Know what to look for.’

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Gmail account hacks in Iran, Google warns

Rising hacking activity in Iran have led Google to warn of Gmail account hacks. Leading up to the elections, Eric Grosse, Google’s security engineering VP, noted of the Gmail account hacks.

Many phishing attemptst have been coming out of a specific internet cafe in Iran, according to a post on the Google Online Security Blog.

A quote:

For almost three weeks, we have detected and disrupted multiple email-based phishing campaigns aimed at compromising the accounts owned by tens of thousands of Iranian users. These campaigns, which originate from within Iran, represent a significant jump in the overall volume of phishing activity in the region. The timing and targeting of the campaigns suggest that the attacks are politically motivated in connection with the Iranian presidential election on Friday.

The phishing emails look like the one below. The technique used is quite common, apparently. A link in the email is provided to the user to perform account maintenance. The link itself leads to a spoofed Google sign-in page. That page will then steal a user’s username and password when they attempt to log in.

gmail-account-hacks-iran

Google noted that the Chrome browser is used to detect such phishing attacks, including Gmail account hacks. The attacks seem to be originating from the same group which was active in 2011. The presidential attacks are taking place tomorrow in Iran.

Gmail account hacks and phishing attempts happen all the time, but this presented a significant surge in a specific region, Grosse notes in his blog post.

Grosse ends his post pointing out some security measures users can apply to keep their Gmail accounts safe. One of the measures noted is the two-step verification method: it involves both your password and a phone on which you will receive a code to be able to log in to your account.

Back in 2011, we posted some tips on keeping your email address as secure as possible. Check them out: you’ll never know when they’ll be useful to you.

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Follow brands on Google+ from the Gmail inbox

Google is strengthening the integration of its services with the option to follow brands on Google+ from the Gmail inbox. This seems to be intended by Google to have businesses take more interest in Google+ and expand their activities there.

The change involves the Google+ people widget, which will show up besides emails you receive from people you’re connected with on Google+:

google+people-widget-sidebar

The people widget shows a compilation of communications you’ve had in recent past with a person, and the things they shared. Both photos, emails, calendar info and documents are shown as well as the circle that they are in.

Here’s an example of Toyota USA showing how it will look in the Gmail inbox:

google+-from-the-gmail-inbox

And here’s a video showing the basics. The description:

We’re expanding the +Gmail people widget to include brands and businesses (http://goo.gl/wx2mI), making it easier for your customers to connect with you on Google+. This way: when people receive emails from your domain, they can follow your Google+ page directly from their inbox!

You can’t just put a special bit of code in your email to make this work though. There are some requirements:

- Emails you send out need to be digitally-signed (DKIM and/or SPF).
- Your Google+ page needs to be verified.

As a bonus, it’s possible to have your Google+ posts appear in the widget besides your email message. You can read more on the requirements on this Google Support page.

It seems social networks are all broadening the options to market and connect to its users from a brand point of view. Just recently, the lead generation card option was announced by Twitter. It allows a Twitter user to directly subscribe to a brand’s newsletter from a tweet with the click of a button. 

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Google Penguin 2.0 update: more blackhat SEO techniques hit

Google Penguin 2.0 updateThe Google Penguin 2.0 update was released on May 22nd. With this update to its search engine, Google is targeting black hat SEO techniques. Think spam links and paid backlinks. Hack sites are targeted as well, and better tracked.

Matt Cutts has some things to share from Google with regards to SEO and the Google Penguin 2.0 update:

Main takeaway from the above video:

Build and release HIGH QUALITY content on your site(s) that users want, bookmark to return to, and can employ and your site will be fine.

 

Google Penguin 2.0 update: be clear about advertorials and other paid content

Advertorials will come under scrutiny too, by the way:

 “Likewise, if you are doing disclosure, you need to make sure that it’s clear to people,” he said. “So a good rule of thumb is there should be clear and conspicuous disclosure. It shouldn’t be the case where people have to dig around buried in small print or have to click and look around a long time to find out, ‘Oh, this content that I am reading was actually paid.’”

From ClickZ.

Google Penguin 2.0 update: Active social signals mean better ranking

Social signals are becoming more and more important for Google search ranking. The Google Penguin 2.0 update means that if people actively engage with your web site and content on social platforms, your site will end up higher in the results. Hooray for those with a strong social following. Boohoo for those who had worked harder on backlinks than social.

To summarize:

- Lots of backlinks might hit you back, either paid/spam or not.
- Advertorials? Make it clear to visitors that they -are- looking at advertorials.
- Social signals have more influence on results. Do some community building, and keep at it!

Here’s a German victim of the Google Penguin 2.0 update, which sunk in the Google SERPs because paid/spam backlinks to their web site.

More sources

Search Engine Watch

Matt Cutts blog

Search Engine Land

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