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We survived Panda, Penguin, and a host of other near-crippling online marketing changes and sat on the edge or our seats awaiting this year’s massively new roll-out. Many of us hoped the delay meant nothing major was happening in the industry, but our hopes were swiftly dashed as Google announced its newest massive master business plan to revolutionize how we, as website owners, do business with them.

We’re not just talking about Hummingbird here, the search giant’s new algorithmic update that would provide users with richer and more conversational search results. It’s a huge modification and will affect 90% of all global searches. To keep up with the update, webmasters must maintain top-notch, rich content that can satisfy intent.

But that’s not only big news that SEOs should worry about. Earlier this month, Google announced that it would be encrypting all search activity within its walls, thus cutting off SEOs and marketers from accessing valuable keyword and search data.

The 2013 Google Encryption News Brief

While Google is being accused of doing this under the guise of hiding customer activity from the NSA (National Security Agency) due to the accusation of giving the NSA access to search data in June of 2013, we cannot help but wonder if the real reason is simply a smart business move. That is, to force more people to purchase their services and specifically, Google AdWords. Which is more realistic, seeing that Google switched their keyword Tool to a paid service and combined it with Google AdWords back in July and August of 2013.

What the 2013 Google Encryption Means for Everybody Else

The 2013 Google Encryption (for lack of a better nickname like Panda or Penguin), means that anybody who relies on search data to fund their content and website data will no longer be able to identify which keywords lead traffic to their site. It means that we, as business owners and content creators, will have an even more difficult time finding out which keywords to use to target our market audience. Thus, limiting and even crippling visibility in user search for thousands, if not millions, of inexperienced and untrained website owners.

Google reported that the encryption would impact less than 10 percent of web-searches. Though, businesses and blog owners alike have reported a steady rise each month with near 100 percent encryption eminent by the end of this year from all Google specific searches.

Introducing Unknown-Keywords and Not Provided Count by Google 2013 Encryption

This new encryption update doesn’t just mean that web marketers, SEO techs, and content providers will lose some of their marketing data, it will mean they will lose all of it via Google services. Google tools and non-Google companies, which used Google tools to provide their customers with important data about traffic to their site, now see the two most dreaded words in the marketing industry: Unknown-Keywords and Not Provided Count. This means that they are not provided with what keywords lead customers to their websites as well as being left in the dark about how many were lead there. Although the current search data encryption is hovering at about 80 percent, it is only months until we reach 100 percent. The question from concerned site owners and marketing strategists are met with a cold shoulder and dead silence by Google.

The Six Google 2013 Data Encryption Workarounds

The situation seems hopeless to a lot of people. For many, there is nothing you can do to change the situation Google has crammed us into. However, we are not without hope. This new roll-out gives us new opportunities and drastically changes how we need to approach the target market.

First, SEO needs to be approached in totality, not just meta-data and keyword placement within content. As marketing specialists, we need to focus less on keyword conversion rates and more on serving the customers with relevant and authoritative websites. This means, we as online business and website owners, now have to rely less on SEO strategies and more on traditional lead generation strategies to achieve business objectives.

Second, while Google keyword and search data is nearing 100 percent anonymity, other search engines are still offering their data to site owners for free. Since roughly 30 to 35 percent of search traffic comes from other major search engine companies like AOL, chúng tôi Bing and Yahoo, we website owners still have access to a limited amount of search data about organic traffic.

Fourth, page level tracking still works. This means that if we are smart, and good website owners should be this smart, we can still track entire pages of content. While we cannot tell which keywords lead to the organic traffic of that content, we can see how well the subject matter performed with our target audience. Thus, promoting the ability to see which subjects appeal to which customers or sell which products.

How to Transcend the Google 2013 Encryption

As our peers suddenly find their SEO strategies flat-lining and their website marketing efforts grinding to a halt, is there a way to transcend the old methods of marketing? Indeed there is, and it will take a melding of old, new, offline, network marketing, and even MLM strategies to make our efforts shine.

Eight Top Golden Rules for Survival:

1. We must let go of the idea that the top two slots on search results are the best from a marketing standpoint. Although most people rarely go as deep as five pages into search results, being on top of page one is not as important as we thought. Instead, optimize for the title and snippet within search results, aiming to capture reader attention  above competitors.

2. Traffic count and social following count are not as relevant as actual sales and lead generation. Those with the most traffic or social following are not necessarily the most successful businesses. Instead of getting lost in the numbers, get lost in making your efforts count towards the bottom line, your bottom line financially. If you are not making increased sales along with increased traffic, then relearn how to reach your target market through content and value of that content.

3. SEO mastery is not something better left to the IT tech or web designer. If you want a website that really sells, let the specialists do their own job. This means the designer catches the audience through visual design, the IT tech manages functionality of the website, the marketer manages the ad campaigns, the PR rep manages public reach outside the internet, and you hire a content creator who knows how to reach the heart of your target market in ways which lead to sales.

4. Linking URLS is not the end all of traffic. Truthfully, if some URLs lead to or from bad neighborhoods, it will still hurt business. So be careful of your online bedfellows. On the other hand, all the links in the world will not help generate sales anymore than page rank or social media. You can lead people to your site but you can’t make them buy. Focus, instead, on the value your site provides your potential and returning customers. Aim to reach them through content, site usability, and a product which sells itself because it is useful. Follow that up with links that add value, to your site or complementary companies.

5. Content still is no more useful than SEO strategies. While good content sells, good SEO helps tremendously with getting it there in the first place. Even though Google is making us fly blind, a good SEO strategy is still a winning emblem of good site management. The old rules still apply, do what works for your site and your product and yours alone, with a view to avoiding anything which smacks of spam to search engines programs. Optimize to readers, not search engines, but still spend time on back-end search engine optimization.

7. SEO strategies DO NOT mean defining exact keywords and repeating them or creating fancy header tags. These outdated optimization techniques are now part of the spam flag triggers implemented in passing years by the Google company during penguin, panda, and their entire zoo and parking lot of massive-scale updates. So, the new strategy is to change up SEO. Optimized instead for a solid theme of content per page, and only use header and sub-header tags and other HTML codes to maintain visual appeal of the site.

How to Survive the 2013 Google Changes

Remember that Google is a business and like all other businesses, they are going to do what makes the best financial sense for them. In the aftermath of this year’s roll-out, remember not to get to caught up in the tragedies it will cause. Instead, begin by implementing a well-rounded approach and common sense when it comes to marketing. Broaden your approach in marketing to include online, offline, networking, and MLM strategies. Traffic count does not equal prosperity unless the content and the product reaches the hearts and serves the needs of  the prospect.

Therefore, to survive this update, we must make firm our resolve to broaden our education and open our mind to new marketing strategies and efforts. While many of us cannot afford to take the time to revamp our entire website, its content, or our social media campaign. We can, and should, work towards a better internet and website experience for our prospective clientele. In so doing, we will come out on top of the marketing game.

photo credits:

FutUndBeidl via photopin cc

Gavin Llewellyn via photopin cc

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What Is Directx Raytracing In Windows And What It Means For Gaming

Microsoft offers DirectX Raytracing or DXR in short with Windows 11/10. With the first generation of hardware, gamers can use Raytracing to build shadows, light, and effects around it in real time. In this post, we are looking at DirectX Raytracing in Windows 11/10 and what it means for Gaming.

What is Raytracing?

In simple words, raytracing means calculating how light would fall on objects, and how it looks after the light is reflected from that object and the effect of lights that fall on some other object. This helps developers to create a better visualization of their characters and scenarios.

That said, its nothing new, and it’s not something that has been created by Microsoft either. Developers had been using this from CGI times, and it involved pre-calculating the brightness of virtual objects before shipping their games. So there was no realtime Raytracing until now.

DirectX Raytracing in Windows 11/10

There are two parts of Raytracing. It needs support from both Hardware and Software. Starting with the Windows 10 v1809 update, DirectX Raytracing will work out-of-box on supported hardware. This means you will need to change your graphics card which supports native raytracing.

Microsoft has made sure that DirectX Raytracing API is built such that it works across hardware from all vendors. The best part of all this is that Raytracing is now real-time.  Developers do not need to perform any precalculation as Game developers now have access to both the OS and hardware to support real-time raytracing in games.

DirectX Raytracing works with Existing Engines

Till date, the industry had been using traditional rasterization to achieve more realistic scenes in games. It lacked reflections, shadows, and ambient occlusion. All these changes with DirectX Raytracing with API developers can use alongside rasterization-based game pipelines integrate DirectX Raytracing support into their existing engines. This means there is no need to rebuild the engines at all.

Microsoft has also shared that several studios have partnered with NVIDIA, who created RTX technology to make DirectX Raytracing run as efficiently as possible on their hardware. Here are some sample images from games like Battlefield V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Metro Exodus.

As of now, developers are going to build games using both rasterization and raytracing. The later is going to be majorly used to calculate the shadows or reflections, while most of the content is generated with the former tech.

Directx 12 / DirectX Raytracing API

In addition to hardware, recently announced public API, DirectML will allow game developers to integrate inferencing into their games with a low-level API. On higher-level:

Acceleration structure: Object that represents a full 3D environment.

DispatchRays: It is the starting point for tracing rays into the scene.

 A set of new HLSL shader types including ray-generation, closest-hit, any-hit, and miss shaders.

Raytracing pipeline state

That said, it doesn’t introduce any new engine but works on any of the DirectX 12 engines.

Microsoft is betting big on DirectX Raytracing

As the gaming industry progressed to higher resolution and the human eye looking for more realistic views, Microsoft expects that even small glitches can be resolved. A small deviation from the real world can be caught by the human eye because it doesn’t feel right. DirectX Raytracing will help developers to blur the line between the real and the fake.

Pgp Encryption: How It Works And How You Can Get Started

Don’t let the name “Pretty Good Privacy” mislead you. PGP encryption is the gold standard for encrypted communication and has been used by everyone from nuclear activists to criminals since its invention in 1991. While the execution is complex, the concept is simple: you can encrypt text, making it unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the key to decode it.

How Does PGP Encryption Work?

Imagine you want to send someone a letter but don’t want anyone except the recipient to be able to read it. The best way to do this is to write the letter in code, but you can’t send the code key along with the letter, as that’s not very secure.

PGP encryption gets around this problem using public key encryption. Everyone is assigned two keys: a public one that you can share with everyone and a private one, which you keep to yourself. What makes this system possible is that the codes only work one way. If Key A encrypts a file, Key A cannot reverse the process and decrypt it. Only its pair, Key B, can do that. Here’s how it usually works:

Write down your message.

Find your friend’s public key. He can email it to you, have it listed on a site, etc.

Run a computer program that uses the public key to convert the message to code.

Send the message. Anyone who intercepts it will only see gibberish.

Your friend receives the message and runs it through his private key to decode it, restoring it to plain text.

This is a vastly simplified explanation of the process, but it covers the basics behind PGP encryption. If you want a more technical, mathematical explanation, Hackernoon breaks it down in much more detail.

What Can I Use PGP Encryption For?

PGP is most often used for encrypting emails, and there are many services to help you do that. ProtonMail is one great example of an encrypted email service that uses full end-to-end encryption. Beyond that, you can use your imagination: PGP can encrypt any text you need and can even be used on whole directories and drives. Investigative journalists often list their public keys online to make it easier for anonymous sources to get in touch with them, and sellers on darknet markets often use it to ensure their customers’ personal information stays secret.

How Do I Get Started?

Getting your own key pair is actually much easier than it sounds. You don’t need to understand anything at all about cryptography. You just have to figure out a few simple programs.

Install Encryption Program

Download Gpg4win. This is a free (though you can donate or just choose $0 when prompted) set of encryption packages and tools. For macOS, check out GPG Suite. You can also add PGP to Linux. As I use Windows, I’ll go through the Windows process.

Install Gpg4win. Make sure GnuPG (the actual encryption package) and Kleopatra (a nice user interface) are installed. The other components are optional, but it can’t hurt to have them.

How to Generate Encryption Keys

Once everything is installed, find the Kleopatra program on your computer and open it.

Go to the “File” tab and select “New Key Pair.” Or, choose “New Key Pair” under the “Certificates” tab. The second option is available only the first time you use the tool.

Since you want PGP keys, select “Create a personal OpenPGP key pair.”

If you want to attach your key to your identity, real or fake, you can enter that information here. Otherwise, you can skip this step. If you want to protect your key with a passphrase (which is more secure), check the “Protect the generated key with a passphrase” box.

From the same dialog box, visit “Advanced Settings” and make sure “RSA” is selected. Change the default 2048 to 4096; this level of encoding makes your encryption pretty much impenetrable and doesn’t really slow you down during normal use.

If you didn’t check the passphrase box in Step 4, you won’t be asked for a passphrase.

You now have a public and private key! If you want, you can back these up in a separate file somewhere, or you can email/publicly upload your public key.

How to Back Up and View Your Keys

Open any text-editing app, like Notepad. Any application that supports .asc files will work.

Open the file with your text editor to see your public key! Beautiful, isn’t it?

You can export your private key by following the same process, except select “Backup secret keys” instead of “Export” in Step 1. Make sure you store this in a safe location or just keep it inside Kleopatra; it’s perfectly accessible there.

These public and private keys can be used with any program that works with PGP, and Kleopatra itself can actually encrypt and decrypt files using your keys. If you want to take them for a test run, try encrypting a text file with your public key and decrypting it with your private key. Use the “Sign/Encrypt” and “Decrypt/Verify” options in Kleopatra.

Frequently Asked Questions How can I safely backup my key(s) once created?

Ideally, you’ll want to store them off your device. This ensures if anyone gains access to your device, they can’t access your keys. Plus, if your device becomes corrupted, you want a backup elsewhere. Consider using a secured USB device or external drive. For extra security, encrypt or password protect the drive.

Can I encrypt files to store in the cloud?

Yes. You can manually encrypt files using the method above. You can also use something specifically designed to encrypt cloud drives, such as Rclone.

Image credit: geralt via Pixabay

Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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What Google Adwords Daily Budget Doubling Means

It’s been a couple of weeks since Google announced that they were granting themselves permission to effectively double your daily ad budget on AdWords. The announcement read:

Sounds pretty great right?

Of course, this assumes that you are incapable of making your own decisions about how you want your own campaign spend structured. But that’s another story.

For those who couldn’t tell, I’m not any type of fan of this change. To provide some balance I asked PPC expert David Szetela to give me his thoughts to illustrate the other side of the coin.

But first, let’s look at why I view daily budget doubling as total rubbish.

Can We Really Trust Google?

We need to trust that if a scenario occurs that would pit Google’s interests against ours that they will act in our interest.

I don’t know about you but I rather trust myself to have a stronger interest in protecting what I want than I trust Google.

Now – that might not seem like a big deal … in the end Larry is still paying about $4,560/month right (at 30.4 days per month).

But that’s not where the evil is.

Basically, this is a war of fractions.

But that’s not the only reason I hate this new “feature.”

What Happens When …

So with a multiplier of only 31 percent (just slightly above the 20 percent Google gave themselves previously), your budget could be exhausted before Black Friday.

So you might well be in the auction for this preliminary stage but what will be left of your budget when the actual shopping days are upon us? Guess you’ll just have to add some new budget into the mix after your initial one is used up.

Who could have seen that coming?

What We Can Do

One of the key areas I’m personally watching and will be making adjustments to through November and December is making our own manual adjustments to daily budgets.

To ensure that the full monthly budget is allocated when I want it to be (which for some clients will be toward the end of the month), we’ll be dropping our daily bids through the earlier portion of the month and then increasing them toward the end.

Basically, we’ll be forcing the system to respect what it used to be to make sure our clients have the budget they need, when they need it, without simply throwing more money at it.

More on why this might work out in our favor below.

And Some Balance

I know I promised some balance. To get that I asked Szetela, owner of FMB Media, to provide his thoughts on the change knowing he disagreed with me. Here’s what he said:

Besides, all of our clients expect us to manage to a monthly budget, and don’t care about fluctuations in daily spend.

It’s Not All Bad …

So let’s look at an example of Larry, Sergey, and Sundar above and I’m going to add in me, dropping my daily budget early in the month and increasing it later on.

How to Tell Who’s Right?

We’ll know in a few months who’s right.

If you’d like to keep score, what it will break down to is:

Image Credits

What General Data Protection Regulation Means For Digital Marketers

The opportunities of the GDPR for Digital Marketers, and a preview of the legislation itself (PDF download)

What lies at the heart of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or EU data law, is that the current level of consumer opt-in consent used in nearly all consumer contact will not be sufficient under the new regulations. It will render data unusable, or there is the prospect of proposed fines running to tens of millions of Euros. Also, the consent terms used when seeking consumers’ permission for the collection and use of their information will have to be far more clearly defined. This article reviews the implications for marketers of the GDPR concluded on 15th December 2023 with the final agreement defined at the Data protection Trilogue negotiations which took place between the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of Ministers.

Key components of the GDPR

GDPR covers areas such as personal privacy and security, but from a marketing perspective it is about the new consumer opt-in permission rules. It means all data will have to be audited against the new standards, and where it does not conform then it will need to be refreshed by asking for enhanced consumer consent. There is also a need to create an effective storing system for individual consent forms, and a method through which consumers can ask and have information on them removed.

The implications for Digital Marketers?

What may be just as important is the way the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) interprets and applies the law in the UK. However, what is clear is that any attempt to append additional information to pseudonymous data in order to identify individuals without their permission will not be allowed.

As far as all other forms of digital communication are concerned, GDPR means facing up to the challenges that other data marketers face.

These are not insignificant tasks, and they will not be quick to implement. But no matter the level of frustration generated there is no substitute for becoming compliant other than to accept databases will have to be written off. However, there is potentially positive news in all of this. If you have to contact customers and prospects to renew consent, it can be used to gain new data on a large and detailed scale, and at the same time make offers direct. The benefits can actually be made to outweigh the negatives.

Of course, there is a temptation to look for a shortcut, or to delay aspects of the compliance process, but really they only delay the inevitable, and are more costly in the long run. All companies at some stage will come under scrutiny from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), or members of the public, and the combination of hefty fines and consumers having the ability to claim damages for misuse of information is difficult to ignore. There could even be the possibility of a PPI type move towards the public demanding compensation on a large scale, plus of course, harm to brand reputation.

Seek help to manage the task of compliance

The other job at the top end of the to-do list is to appoint someone to be responsible for overseeing the compliance process. If nobody is given ownership there is a possibility that job will get pushed back and forth and ultimately not get done, or implemented badly. Either way the result could be costly.

Whoever takes charge their responsibilities should include the production of written guidelines on GDPR, and distributing them to all relevant personnel. The guide should set out what is, and what is not allowed in terms of consumer data so that individuals can do their jobs safe in the knowledge that they are not breaking the new law.

Data audits and changes to data protocol are not things that can be rushed, and may take months of work, including changes to software. Currently, for example, there are very few CRM software systems with a storage function for keeping consent forms.

Even though the new EU law may not be introduced until the end of 2023, or even later, the lawmakers and bureaucrats in Brussels are perfectly capable of acting more quickly than predicted. More importantly, it may take some data owners more than a year or more to prepare. Even starting work on compliance today will be too late for some. Delay is a risky strategy given the potential financial penalties, but also the investment needed in any last minute intensive bid to play catch up.

To continue to use data there are four key tasks that have to be completed. They are establishing whether or not the current level of opt in permission used meets the new unambiguous terms required, amending the consent terms, contacting consumers to upgrade the consent level to the new standard, and storing consent forms from every consumer, whether in electronic or paper form.

Consumer consent is key

There is widespread confusion about the definition of the ‘unambiguous’ permission criteria to the forthcoming law. A good illustration is that it will be like a traffic light system. Consumer consent will have to be sought and provided if you want to convey information about a given subject to a customer or prospect through a given communication channel. Later you may wish to communicate about another subject in another way, and that would be like stopping at another set of traffic lights at which fresh permission must be asked in order to move forward once more.

Storing consent forms is something that most data owners have never had to do before, but in future all forms will have to be presented if requested to do so by the ICO. Creating a storage facility is therefore a key element of compliance.

The other task is to enable consumers to have their data removed quickly if they request it. The ‘take down’ clause as it is becoming known, means having to provide a clearly identifiable route for members of the public to make contact and make their request known and acted upon.

Develop a new data regime

If it is necessary to refresh opt consent levels by contacting consumers it is possible to use that contact to learn a great deal more about them, discover their real buying potential, purchasing triggers, and during that process sell or make offers directly to them. The compliance process can be used as an opportunity for improving market knowledge, driving sales or recruiting more customers.

The ICO recently made it clear that any organisation that was not fully compliant when GDPR is enacted will not necessarily be sanctioned if it could demonstrate that it had made a real attempt to prepare for it. This is more to do with the technicalities of compliance than the level of effort, and what was emphasised was that token gestures would not be accepted. You either prepare for the new law, or you do not.

The legislation

This PDF on the implications gives a breakdown of the law in its current draft state, showing the differences between the law as adopted by the European parliament and the amendments of the European Commission and Council. It is not a quick read and is written for legal purposes so the language is somewhat dense. However if you are a large company who the GDPR will affect then it is worth getting your legal department to have a look so they can understand how the law is shaping it.

Nearshore Outsourcing: What Is It And How Do You Use It?

“Outsourcing” refers to contracting work to an outside party like a freelancer or a BPO organization. Services like software development and customer assistance that fall outside of a company’s core strength or would be too costly to handle in-house are examples of the kinds of tasks that are commonly outsourced in particular sectors. However, delivery time, service costs, and accessibility can affect where you choose to outsource.

Nearshore Outsourcing

Nearshore outsourcing, in its most basic form, is working with a contractor based in a neighboring nation rather than staffing in-house. Below, we’ll compare it with onshore and offshore outsourcing to better understand the differences. A corporation in the United States may, for instance, contract with an outsourcing provider located in Mexico, Honduras, or another Latin American country.

Western European companies sometimes seek to outsource software development to Eastern European countries like Romania. In addition to saving money, nearshore outsourcing also improves productivity. Finding an outsourcing partner in a neighboring nation might save money compared to working with a local service provider.

Also read:

Top 10 Best Artificial Intelligence Software

How Do You Use It?

The first step in nearshore outsourcing is determining the tasks that will be outsourced. An on-demand outsourcing approach allows you to hire workers whenever you need them, making it ideal for handling low volumes of jobs like customer service inquiries. This might help reduce labor expenses and facilitate periodic staffing adjustments.

However, suppose you’re a young company with sophisticated outsourcing requirements. In that case, you might want a separate team that deals only with your company and works closely with your in-house employees. This guarantees that your nearshore partners are accessible throughout your business hours and aren’t juggling too many tasks simultaneously.

Distinguishing Between Nearshore and Offshore Outsourcing

How about expanding your search to include offshore outsourcing and nearshore service providers? It all comes down to what you value most and what your business aims to grow. Labor expenses in nearshore locales like Brazil and Argentina can be cheaper than in popular outsourcing hubs in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, supporting employees in different time zones allows you to provide service to customers around the clock. Real-time cooperation might be difficult when people are in different time zones.

Final Thoughts

After learning the answer to “what is nearshore outsourcing?” and how it works, you can better evaluate whether or not this strategy is suitable for your business. Nearshore outsourcing might be the best option for a company looking to save expenses and boost the quality of its contact center. A good nearshore call center will have enthusiastic and competent representatives, making you feel good about having them represent your company.

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