Good Monday morning. It’s May 11th. The House of Representatives returns to Washington this week, all three federal government branches are in session. They appear to be hypervigilant about perception and behaving accordingly. Don’t let your workplace be like that. Consider the White House, where key leaders are said to be self-isolating amid daily testing. Your employees, partners, and customers will remember how you behaved during this crisis.

Reach out to George if you need to brainstorm about your organization updating its presence online. Now more than ever, we need to all work together and support each other.

We’ve also created new pricing for small businesses who need help maintaining their online presence on websites, email, and social media.

Today’s Spotlight is 1,387 words, about a 5 minute read.

1. News to Know Now

a. Pinterest grew revenue 35% and its user base 26%, but missed its earnings-per-share by 11% and Wall Street hammered the stock. That’s the business headline but pay attention to the number of monthly active users (MAU). The social media company is up to 367 million monthly users. They are an attractive advertising mix of higher income women who skew younger than Facebook and wealthier than Instagram.

b. Pinterest was one of the companies with an app that stopped working last week. An error in the login code software used by many iOS apps and published by Facebook caused Pinterest, Spotify, TikTok, and others to stop working. The problem developed early Wednesday evening and affected the end of the business day in western states.

c. Automaker Tesla is facing questions about privacy this week after a self-described tinkerer bought used video displays from the company and was able to retrieve private information from them. The units were apparently sold after being removed at a Tesla service center and included synced contact lists, calendars, and passwords. Read the story at Ars Technica.

2. COVID-19 Online Resources and News


Covidly — my go-to
Our World in Data — Oxford nonprofit — also excellent
Corona Shutdown — animated map showing stats by county
Covid Trends — interactive charts 

Tech News

UPS & CVS expanding drone delivery in Florida
Airbnb has new cleaning protocols & 24 hour buffer time
Refugees at camp in Jordan built delivery robot from Lego kit
Snapchat users and engagement increase
Help Main Street Web App shows 120K local businesses to support

3. Search Engine Optimization News

Google is now showing search suggestions that are increasingly more reliant on what it calls searcher intent. One prevalent example involves combining a prior search with a current search so that they’re both presented as a form of narrowing your request. Here’s that flow:

1. A user searches for streaming services.
2. A user searches for Disney.
3. Google suggests “based on your recent activity” that you try searching for “Disney streaming”

It’s nuanced and possibly something that improves website engagement. Search Engine Land has screenshots and more information.

Google also announced a new variant of its Google Trends data called Rising Retail Categories. It’s a spectacular look at weekly, monthly, or yearly data broken down by country. Users see the increase in the top trending categories, state-by-state comparisons, and the top searches in each. 

Last week’s big searches had to do with surprisingly cold weather (landscape fabric) and Mother’s Day (candy, chocolate, flowers, and cupcakes). The biggest terms for the last month: golf push carts, sprinkler valves, and above ground pools. In fourth place was an entry I’ve never seen in this level of search data: sneeze guards for desks and counters.

Google reported last week that it has blocked “tens of millions of coronavirus-related adsover the past few months for policy violations.” Most of that work is done by automated systems, but Sue and I can assure you that ads and the content they appear with are also manually flagged.

Sometimes knowing the rules may not be enough. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land describes how LinkedIn mistakenly sent Google instructions to block its website. Being a part of Big Tech, LinkedIn was restored in Google after about ten hours. This search engine stuff is not for the faint of heart. Google’s John Mueller never referenced LinkedIn but alluded to the problem when giving the search world a PSA about what not to do.

4. Also in the Spotlight — Millions of School Kids Can’t Access Broadband

The world has done amazing work by sheltering in place, moving to teleworking and remote services, and even tried to scale K-12 distance learning.

Most educators I’ve spoken with knew that the process would be daunting. About one-third of Dallas families don’t have home Internet according to a recent Dallas Morning News article about the digital divide. Other reporting describes teachers who don’t have access parking outside businesses that do and using their broadband.

A 2018 Microsoft study estimates that more than 160 million Americans do not use the Internet at broadband speed. The study also links GDP and access to broadband. And Microsoft, which has oodles of actual user data, points out that government estimates used by schools may be wrong.

In rural Ferry County in Washington, the FCC reports that 100% of residents have access to broadband. County officials didn’t agree and said that individuals may have access through their workplace. When Microsoft looked at its data, they found that only 2% of the county was using broadband.

The COVID-19 crisis is shining a spotlight on data vagaries. With almost every state closing its schools, the crisis is real, and questions remain about how to ensure that all schoolchildren have the same opportunity to learn.

5. Following Up: Facebook’s Oversight Board

We’ve told you for months that Facebook wanted to create a content oversight board that would take the focus off its business executives when the company grapples with difficult problems surrounding the site’s content.

The board’s first 20 members have been announced and include a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, a former Danish prime minister, and a slew of professors, editors, and activists. 

There is a lot of hype around the statement that this soon-to-be 40 person board can overrule the business leaders on issues like hate speech. 

Politico has coverage.

6. Debugging: Plandemic Debunked

A controversial twenty-six minute video has been debunked by almost all fact check organizations and media companies ranging from Poynter, Snopes, and FactCheck to USA Today, The Washington Post, and Facebook.

Comments range from “filled with falsehoods” to “could lead to imminent harm.” 

Read Poynter’s debunking of the whole thing here.

6. Debugging: Plandemic Debunked

A controversial twenty-six minute video has been debunked by almost all fact check organizations and media companies ranging from Poynter, Snopes, and FactCheck to USA Today, The Washington Post, and Facebook.

Comments range from “filled with falsehoods” to “could lead to imminent harm.” 

Read Poynter’s debunking of the whole thing here.

7. ProTip: Control Who Sees Your Social Media

Take some of that commuting time that you’re hopefully saving and ensure that your social media privacy settings are configured the way that you want.

Here are 12 guidelines and links to everything that you need.

8. Great Data: Wealth Shown to Scale

We can appreciate great data storytelling without agreeing with the story. The Wealth Shown to Scale site helps create context around the vast differences between thousands, millions, billions, and trillions. Stick with it — not for the messaging but the way that data and visuals are combined in the story.

Swipe on phones and use a computer’s right cursor key.

9. Screening Room: Reddit

You can see this week’s video at Ad Age because it’s still prerelease. 

You know all those cute and crazy things you’ve seen online since the pandemic started? Reddit would like to remind you that’s their specialty.

Reddit thanks the Idiots and Heroes.

10. Coffee Break: Working from Home with Alexis

In 45 seconds, Alexis summarizes the memorable part of video conferences while working from home.

The video is on Twitter. Be sure to turn on your sound.

Here are three ways that we can help you:

1. Get a free SEO audit on our website.

2  Have a simple, fact-based question about digital marketing? Reply & ask George for free.

3. If your organization needs help with maintenance, search, social media, or advertising, have a look at what we do.

See you Monday.

Good Monday morning. It’s May 4th.  Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow and also falls on Taco Tuesday so enjoy your favorite tacos tomorrow as you plan for Mother’s Day, which is Sunday. This calendar brief intended for people who have forgotten the date, perhaps even the month.

Amanda Brinkman, host of Small Business Revolution on Hulu, said in a Wired interview this week, “The key to remaining viable is to be searchable and active online. People everywhere want to be supporting small businesses, but they need to be able to find them.”

We agree. Watch the rest of her interview on Facebook Live with Wired EIC Nicholas Thompson.

Today’s Spotlight is 1,186 words, about a 4 minute read.

1. News to Know Now

a. Amazon unlawfully increased prices on numerous consumer goods in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, in some cases by more than 500%, a new proposed class action suit in California federal court alleges according to reporting from Bloomberg Law. The Markup has wonderful reporting on Amazon pricing algorithms and how they create huge disparities for consumers and third-party sellers. Amazon beat Wall Street forecasts when it announced quarterly earnings last week. To put their growth in perspective, Amazon announced that it will spend up to $4 billion in worker overtime and personal protective equipment to meet COVID-19 demand.

b. LinkedIn is releasing new tools in response to all aspects of the job hunt going virtual due to COVID-19, including the job interview itself. The company released a test version of a new video introduction feature, as well as an AI-powered tool that gives feedback on peoples’ spoken word responses. Read more at Search Engine Journal

2. COVID-19 Online Resources and News


Covidly — my go-to.
Our World in Data — Oxford nonprofit – corrected link
NY Times Maps & Data – free during the pandemic

Tech News

Apple-Google Contact Tracing Tool Gets Beta Release
Companies Equip AI Cameras to Track Social Distancing & Masks
Drones Spread Word About COVID-19 in Rural South Africa
Google Ads Releases Details on $340 Million in Small Business Ad Credits
YouTube to start posting links to COVID-19 Fact Checks

3. Search Engine Optimization News

Google executive Gary Illyes said last week that a website’s speed is a “teeny-tiny factor” regarding its overall ranking. Here is what that means because it’s important to understand:

When all other things are equal, website speed can differentiate the ranking success between two sites. More importantly, very slow websites do not rank well unless they are the sole repository of unique information. A government site, for example, will rank well regardless of its speed. Your restaurant, store, or nonprofit website will not rank well against competitors if it is slow. But there appears to be a diminishing return for site speed improvements that are barely discernible from their previous marks. For example, shaving one second off a website speed of three seconds may not be worth the effort or compromise.

Google also debunked a notion that a link’s value changes over time. After first commenting that the questioner might be focused too much on links, Google’s John Mueller observed that a link may decrease in value over time because the originating website content might not be as relevant in the future as it was when the link was created. There’s more about this at Search Engine Journal.

4. Also in the Spotlight — Tech Earnings Soar

We told you last week that the major tech companies were reporting earnings. It wasn’t hard to guess that Amazon is minting money, and most COVID-19 impacts were felt by companies two months into the quarter. 

All the major tech firms smashed through their forecasts. Microsoft was particularly noteworthy in posting $4 billion more in year-over-year revenue and a nearly 40% increase in net income. Even divisions like LinkedIn saw huge increases in revenue. 

Google, Facebook, and Twitter also reported very strong quarterly earnings although analysts are more interested in next quarter, the first full three month period with COVID-19 playing a major role.

5. Following Up: Dot Org Registry Domain Sales

We’ve told you for months about the ongoing concerns the nonprofit sector has expressed regarding the sale of the dot org domain registry to a venture capital firm. ICANN, the organization that oversees the domain name system, announced late Thursday that the separate domain registry could not be sold.

Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer

6. Debugging: Nobel Prize Winner Refutes Claim

Nobel winner Dr. Tasuku Honjo did not say that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was “completely artificial” and is debunking internet memes circling around social media that claim otherwise.

Read the rest of Dr. Honjo’s story at the AP’s Not Real News.

7. ProTip: Best Hidden Mac Features

Did you know that your Mac’s wallpaper could rotate or that there is a secret dark mode?  How about using an iPad as a second display?

You can thank CNET later for their hidden tips and tricks.

8. Great Data: Visualizing Fine Print for 14 Apps

Great data doesn’t have to be in table, chart, or graph form. This amazing visualization made it into George’s personal swipe file. If you hear him speak in the future, expect him to show this to illustrate some point or another.

Congratulations, Instagram. Yes, Instagram

9.  Screening Room: Coors Light 

Coors Light hired Paul Giamatti to voice a new funny spot that ends with what they hope will be a viral campaign about who could use a beer.

10. Coffee Break: Unnecessary Inventions

Are you secretly longing for Instructional Pants or Zoom video conferencing shutters? Vermont product designer Matt Benedetto has been creating “products that solve problems that don’t exist.”

There enough to chuckle over or to lose an entire day watching

Here are three ways that we can help you:

1. Get a free SEO audit on our website.

2  Have a simple, fact-based question about digital marketing? Reply & ask George for free.

3. If your organization needs help with search, social media, or advertising, have a look at what we do.

See you Monday.

Good Monday morning. It’s April 27th. Facebook and Microsoft report quarterly earnings Wednesday. Apple, Amazon, and Twitter report Thursday. That means lots of buzzworthy news will be released midweek.

Reach out to George if you need to brainstorm about your organization updating your presence online. We’ve already had these conversations with clients and friends. Now more than ever, we need to all work together and support each other.

1. News to Know Now

a. Facebook Messenger Rooms launched as a Zoom competitor. The service is free, participants do not have to have a Facebook account, and live video chats can hold up to 50 people. There’s tight integration with Facebook and Messenger. The same integration will roll out to WhatsApp and Instagram. Read the announcement or see the video.

b. Google will require all advertisers to identity themselves at an organization and personal level. Search Engine Journal’s (and former Silver Beacon consultant) Susan Wenograd broke the news Thursday. The change will include all advertising categories, not just the political and advocacy categories most platforms now require. Ads will include a message identifying who has paid for the advertising. Read her article here to also see an animation showing the new function.

c. Amazon has been accused of using data from third party sellers to create their own private label products to compete with those sellers. The charges were made in a blockbuster Wall Street Journal article Friday by reporter Dana Mattioli who wrote that she interviewed twenty former Amazon employees, including one who supplied proof. Amazon’s private label business now generates more than $1.5 billion in annual revenue. An Amazon executive testified to Congress last year that the company does not use this data. (Read the story here — paywall)

Last week’s One Click Poll results
75% of you said last week that your workplace was opening at about the right pace. That’s great to hear!

This week, tell us about lunch with one click at the bottom of this week’s newsletter.

2. COVID-19 Online Resources and News


Covidly — my go-to.
Our World in Data — non profit based at Oxford.
Factbase — has metro area level detail, not just state or county.
RT live — shows average number of people infecting others by state.

Tech News

YouTube bans ‘medically unsubstantiated content
Software monitoring remote employees is seeing a sales boom
3D Printable Ventilators Built for Coronavirus
Boston Dynamics Robot Carrying Equipment to Patient Triage Area
Yes You Can Print Your Face on a Mask
People of the Pandemic Game Simulates Your Town’s Response

3. Search Engine Optimization News

Google Shopping is once again free for merchants. Google began charging for the service way back in 2012 after a successful 10 year run as a price comparison service once known as Froogle and then Google Product Search before becoming Google Shopping. 

Google Product feeds were once as ubiquitous at retailers as Amazon product feeds are now. As Amazon gained well over one-third of the U.S. ecommerce market, Google held the line on its own shopping service until online purchasing exploded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Google will also resume its partnership with PayPal, a new agreement that was also announced last week.

Amazon and Google will continue to sell advertising in their ecommerce products, but in Google’s case, the listing is now free again.  You can read their announcement here.

Google also announced that it will display a new message if its search engine doesn’t find what it calls a “great match”. A new message will appear that suggests alternative searches. The new feature may help Google lead you to very topical information about the COVID-19 pandemic, suggests Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz

Bing still receives more than 500 million U.S. searches each month and 12 billion worldwide. That pales in comparison with Google but is still a lot of volume. That’s why search watchers were shocked last week to learn that a Bing feature that showed popular related results from websites included inappropriate stock images with NSFW names. Microsoft and Shutterstock confirmed that there was no child pornography as some of the titles suggested. Ars Technica’s Timothy Lee broke the story that you can read here.

4. Also in the Spotlight — YouTube’s First Video Turns 15

Jawed Karim visited the San Diego Zoo and made an 18 second video outside the elephant area. Jawed, only 25, was an early employee at PayPal and created YouTube with two of his PayPal co-workers. One year later, the trio sold YouTube to Google for $1.65 billion. Today, YouTube generates $15 billion in annual revenue so that was a good deal for Google.

You can see Jawed’s first video here and read more about the founders at Cnet.

5. Following Up: Dropbox Hired Hackers in 2018 to Crack Zoom

A startling New York Times expose describes Dropbox hiring hackers more than one year ago to find vulnerabilities in the software code of Zoom and other products that its employees often used. Dropbox then presented the results to Zoom and its executives were troubled when the company took more than three months to fix them. Dropbox was a pre-IPO investor in Zoom and one of its directors led a $100 million investment in the company.

Read  “Zoom’s Security Woes Were No Secret…”

6. Debugging: Jacksonville Beach Photos Are Real

A Getty photographer’s photo of people walking on a Florida beach without practicing social distancing was edited into a second story about Los Angeles. The doctored document was then circulated on Facebook with messages suggesting that media images were doctored and that the COVID-19 outbreak was not as real as news reports suggest.

Poynter debunks the conspiracy theory with nine sources at this link.

7. ProTip: Zoom Real-Time Meeting Transcription

In more positive Zoom news, the service now has integrated with, a real-time chat transcription service that allows participants to view a live text log of the meeting.

Tom’s Guide describes the service and provides details.

8. Great Data: NYC Sidewalk Widths

This map uses the NYC Sidewalk database to map the entire city’s grid of sidewalks and shows which are wide enough to allow proper social distancing.

See the amazing visualization here.

9.  Screening Room: Every COVID-19 Commercial Is Exactly the Same

Every COVID-19 commercial is indeed made up of the same elements. This is a fantastic supercut of many of them.

10. Coffee Break: Sharks!

I didn’t expect to spend time with Brunswick last week, but I found it fascinating that he was near the Georgia coast in February 2019, went up to Nova Scotia, looped in to New Brunswick for a while, and then came all the way back down, before swinging around Florida and visiting its west coast.

You see, Brunswick is an eight-and-a-half foot white shark that weighs more than 430 pounds. Like the sharks and other critters tagged at Ocearch, his movements are dutifully plotted on an aquatic map. 

Brunswick was hanging out off the coast of Vero Beach on Thursday evening at 7:43. Seeing how far some of these creatures travel and where is fun.

Visit the Ocearch tracker here.

Here are three ways that we can help you:

1. Get a free SEO audit on our website.

2  Have a simple, fact-based question about digital marketing? Reply & ask George for free.

3. If your organization needs help with search, social media, or advertising, have a look at what we do.

See you Monday.