Online Reputation Management Blog

Apple and Google May Not Renew Safari Deal, Experts Say


Though no one is certain of the date, Apple and Google’s search engine deal is expected to end sometime this year, leading experts to speculate on whether the two tech giants will renew their partnership.

Online journal Search Engine Land reports that the deal between the two companies, in which Apple made Google the default search engine for its web browser Safari, is now being weighed on both sides. Given Google’s modest net revenue generated under the agreement, however, some industry experts are predicting that the companies will part ways.

It was reported last year that Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, led discussions with Microsoft, which owns Bing, and Yahoo about a potential switch. Since at least 2011, the revenue Google generated from its default position on Safari has been steady but small. Another online journal, The Motley Fool, reported that Google is expected to make $7.8 billion in revenue from its deal with Apple. However, since Google pays Apple $2.2 billion for Safari rights, the net revenue comes out to be $5.6 billion, 8.5% of Google’s 2014 revenue.

Still, this may not be enough to convince Google to keep its spot with Safari. Especially considering that Google gave up its default rights in Firefox to Yahoo! in the United States, some predict that Google may do the same with Apple.

It is worth nothing that Google is still the default search engine in Firefox outside of the U.S.

Apple may also feel the deal is unnecessary. According to a 2012 survey of iPhone users, 45% of respondents claim that they go directly to for an online search. Another 19% use the mobile Google app, bring the total percentage of users who use Google directly to 64%. However, 26% of users use the Safari toolbar, which employs Google unless the user changed its default settings to Yahoo! or Bing, which is perfectly possible.

Overall, Apple figures it can drop Google’s default position without much fuss, as users can either manually restore Google as default or go to Google directly each time they want to search.

For its part, Google has an 84% share of the mobile market in the United States. In addition, Google Chrome currently leads the field in the most Internet traffic, including desktop and mobile. Google’s dominance in search engine and Internet traffic may leave the company confident enough to say farewell to Safari.

Facebook and Google Dominate Mobile Ad Revenues


By now, most companies have reported their 2014 earnings, and so now begins the process of comparing and analyzing them. It’s not really much of a surprise that two of the largest companies there are, Facebook and Google, get the most mobile ad revenues — together, 50% of the total.

In 2011, Facebook didn’t earn a single dollar from mobile ad revenue; yet in 2014, the social media giant drew in over $7 billion. Many people perceived this huge increase to mean that Facebook does better than Google in that regard, but that simply isn’t the case.

Steven Max Patterson writes for Network World that mobile ads on Facebook and Google couldn’t be more different — he describes them as “apples and oranges.”

One the one hand, Facebook leads ad sales in its newsfeed, which is super accurate because of the wealth of user data that Facebook has access to. On the other, Google excels with mobile search. Again — apples to oranges here.

Where the two do intersect in the mobile ad world, according to Patterson, is competing for the best return on investment (ROI). Conversion rates are hard to track on mobile, however, since the ad types vary. But aye, there’s the rub — since conversions are hard to see through mobile ads, prices are probably going to stay low.

Forbes contributor Robert Hof says that that’s the big problem with Facebook’s success with mobile ads — the prices just aren’t going to compare to those spent on browser ads.

Hof adds that people just don’t respond to calls to action on mobile — like making purchases, downloading white papers, or filling out forms — as much as they do on their desktop computers. Though mobile ad revenue is seeing healthy growth right now, it won’t for long. At least until mobile interfaces change enough for those ads to amount to conversions.
In fact, experts say that alhough local mobile ad spending is expected to see substantial growth — from $800 million to $18 billion by next year, it could stagnate after that.

Regardless of whether or not we’re comparing apples to apples or oranges, and regardless of the fly in the mobile ad revenue ointment, there’s no disputing that both Facebook and Google are getting a pretty big chunk of the pie — at least for now.

Consistency is King: How Typos are Ruining Your Local Search Rankings

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It’s 2015. Do you know where your business is?

Of course you do. You probably work there on a regular basis. But if Google doesn’t know where your business is, your local search engine optimization campaign will never get off the ground.

The Google Pigeon update that went into effect in 2014 dramatically changed the mechanics of local search. Prior to the update, internet marketers could use onsite content and offsite link building to build rankings.

Now, Google is focusing on local directory websites, including review sites like Yelp. And they don’t look kindly on typos.

Companies with inconsistent titles or typos in their addresses are finding themselves bumped down in their search rankings. Though content marketing (which 92% of marketers consider somewhat or very effective for SEO) has been considered “king” of online marketing in the past, it seems consistency is king in 2015.

A restaurant listed on one website as, say “Chinese Family Restaurant,” will rank poorly if they’re listed on other sites as “Chinese Restaurant.” Similarly, a company that calls itself “Office Supplies USA” and “Office Supplies USA, Inc.” interchangeably could take a hit in local search.

It seems like it wouldn’t make a difference, but Google is cracking down on these inconsistencies. So what can businesses do to adjust to this change?

Many people are encouraging customers to visit Yelp and other review sites to comment on their business, but this still may not deal with the root of the problem. To supplement this, companies need to keep their names and contact information consistent across all directories.

This may seem like a big task, especially for companies who already have information on several different platforms. Fortunately, tools like Yext and others can adjust all directory information at once, making it easier for companies to rank on local search.

HIPPA Requirements Pose Problems for Applications Developers

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The healthcare industry is only one of many fields that has begun using mobile applications and other technology to improve communications and the use of data. Many American biobanks, for instance, are now investing in software that allows them to manage and share the more than 300 million tissue samples in their systems, increasing the chances the information can be used to create new therapies and treatments.

As interesting as this is, however, you will likely be more familiar with how doctors are using mobile apps and technology to interact with their patients and promote healthier choices. Whether your doctor has recommended that you buy a Fitbit to help you track your exercise or you have noticed your doctor jotting something down on Evernote, there is no doubt that smart technology is becoming a common tool for people concerned with their health. But what if those devices and apps fell under the protection of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)? Would this change how we were able to use them, or even how they were created?

HIPPA is designed to safeguard protected health information, or PHI. PHI is defined as information that must be personally identifiable data, which is created, used or disclosed during the process of health care, such as a diagnosis or treatment. For this reason, covered entities, which include doctors, clinics, and insurance companies, are naturally required to be compliant with HIPPA standards. However, following an update in September 2013, people or entities that perform certain functions or activities which assist covered entities are also subject to HIPPA. As a result, application developers may fall into this group without even being aware.

Take Evernote as an example: if a patient uses the app to take notes on their diet, exercise, medication or other information and then shares the information with their physician to help them make changes, the app is technically being used for PHI and must be HIPPA compliant, even if it was not intended for that purpose. This would require the application developers to adhere to a number of physical, technical and administrative safeguards to avoid substantial penalties.

But following these guidelines isn’t as easy as it might sound. While other data security standards, such as those for payment cards, specifically list what individuals and businesses must do to be compliant, HIPPA generally requires entities to follow certain steps where “reasonable and appropriate.” This makes it difficult to determine which steps should be followed in different situations. To make matters worse, there is no official certification for HIPPA compliance, which means companies cannot be recognized as adhering to the standards. Thus, even accidental violations will likely only be discovered if the entity is audited by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the same group that imposes the fines.

In response to this uncertain terrain, application developers are turning to a number of different options to ensure their products are HIPPA-compliant. Many are choosing to hire services like TrueVault, a protected database that has been designed to meet HIPPA standards. Similarly, companies like Google and Apple have begun designing their own usage terms, protocols and policies to keep PHI off of their databases; the App Store even states it will reject apps that attempt to use the HealthKit programming interface to store users’ health information on iCloud. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult for developers who use APIs like Google and Apple to create health-based apps that are HIPPA-compliant.

Currently, applications developers, healthcare providers, and policy experts are trying to determine the best ways to ensure modern technology follows security standards set for medical information. How can compliance be shared between databases and companies, for example? How can users be protected? The answers aren’t always clear or easy. But as apps and devices continue to appear, the need for new decisions and innovation is clear.