Good Monday morning. It’s March 23rd. 

We are not insensitive to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re going to keep pushing on in our new normal. Telling you the news without constantly referencing the coronavirus pandemic isn’t possible, but we also believe that some industries may have permanently shifted to a new structure. 

Talking with small business leaders last week and this weekend, I’m struck by how many small groups are moving completely into digital, even groups that only had a two or three page website until now. 

Boston Fed Chair Eric Rosenberg says that our economy may be shocked with up to 30 percent unemployment in Q2. Rosenberg has also expressed skepticism about past Fed intervention creating long-run change. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says that the federal government’s total assistance for corporations could reach $4 trillion. For context, the combined value of every publicly traded company on the planet was nearing $90 trillion before this crisis.  

Reach out to George if you need to brainstorm about your organization doing new things in a digital way. We’ve already had these conversations with clients and friends. Now more than ever, we need to all work together and support each other. Just press REPLY in your email client to send a note.

Today’s Spotlight is 1,108 words, about a 4 minute read.

2. COVID-19 Online Resources and News


Covidly – my new go-to for news uses both of the sites below as sources
Johns Hopkins

Consumer Information

BBB resource center (charities, events, daycare, and scam info)
Audible – free kid and family stories for mobile, tablet, and computer
10 Best Harry Potter Zoom Backgrounds (yes, your kids also will be zooming)
My Fridge Food – A  favorite. Get recipes based on what you have on hand

3. Search Engine Optimization News

Google is continuing to refine the search engine results page for mobile displays. Ads were removed from the right side years ago and now featured snippets are gone. The end result is a longer, not wider, presentation and less screen real estate for organizations to promote their message.

Mobile screens are about 5.8 inches tall, or half the height of a midrange computer monitor. Don’t despair if your website is small and your organization isn’t an international giant. Search is all about getting more website traffic that buys your widgets and orders your services, not whose site shows up first.

Google has stopped accepting local reviews during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of limiting Google My Business functionality since their employees are working from home. Updates to health-related businesses are being prioritized during the pandemic. Finally, there are new code techniques to show Google’s indexing software that events on your website have been canceled.

4. Also in the Spotlight – Privacy & Protection

The entire security industry is holding its collective breath and waiting for customer files or other sensitive information to be stolen now that tens of millions of people are exclusively remote and working on less secure home networks.

This Electronic Frontier Foundation article will start you down the path you need to travel as you think hard about this issue.

5.  Following Up: Clearview AI

We’ve told you about Clearview AI and the database of facial images they removed without authorization from the Internet’s biggest websites. Kashmir Hill, now at The New York Times, continues to cover this story extraordinarily well.

Read “Before Clearview Became a Police Tool, It Was a Secret Plaything of the Rich”

6. Debugging: Coronavirus Hoaxes & BS

The AP assembled a list of fake claims and hoaxes about the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them are using a hairdryer in your nostrils, the nonsense about martial law, salt water gargles, and other things too good to be true.

Do yourself a favor and read it here so you can debunk others.

7. ProTip: Transcribe Speech 

I was a little skeptical about Google Translate’s power to transcribe speech in realtime, and well, I was wrong.  Get the free app on your phone and translate between any combination of English, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Thai.

Extra protip: can’t hear someone in a noisy room? Start the app and put your phone on the table. 

This is getting darn close to the Star Trek universal translator.

8.  Great Data: Each Country’s Oldest Company

This is a lovely map to consider today. We humans sometimes need to remember that we are good at enduring. Look at the Swiss company still in business since 1230, the Italian bell foundry celebrating its 1,000 year anniversary in 20 years, and the Peruvian Mint that is 454 years old.

It is also fun to look at newer countries.

I am a big fan of the new Huggies campaign in Australia tha counters parent-shaming with parent-faming. Not only are you okay, but you are special.

10. Coffee Break:  Amazon Dating

It’s light-hearted. It’s recognizable branding. It’s not real, but you don’t have to tell your victims. 

Prime one hour free delivery has a whole new meaning.

Hey, we know you love us too since you’re down here at the bottom of the newsletter.  Would you do us a favor and forward this to someone who you think will enjoy Spotlight like you do? Tell them they can sign up for free by clicking the silver button below.

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 March 16th. 

Information about coronavirus is changing fast.  And we’re certainly not going to take your time today with news about search engine optimization or advertising. Instead we’re giving you one more set of coronavirus resources links that will help you help your organization and family through this crisis.

Want to chat about something you see here? Press your email reply button or click the silver “Write George” button below.

Coronavirus Resources Online


JHU (not great on mobiles)
Worldometers US page

Video explanation for laypeople about how the modeling works for coronavirus and similar exponential growth 

Nearly every major media outlet is making national and local (if applicable) resources available even if you are not a subscriber. Sites I’ve confirmed include The Washington Post, New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Financial Help

Many school districts are offering free breakfast and lunch for school-aged children regardless of their enrollment status and low-cost meals for adults. Please distribute this information far and wide in your own networks. 

SBA Page for Business Assistance
Free Google Hangouts Premium Video Conferencing
Free Microsoft Teams collaboration software
Free Zoho Apps for 60 Days
60 Day Free VPN Licenses
Apple Card Waives Late Fees
Internet / Mobile Carriers Won’t Cut Off Accounts
HOW TO: Ideas to Make Your Internet Connection Faster
HOW TO: Use a Free Zoom Background on Video Calls

Financial Help for Children & Students
Free Broadband from Spectrum / Charter to Households with Students
Free Adobe at Home for Students Whose Schools Subscribe
Free Scholastic Courses
Free U-Haul Self Storage for College Students (30 Days)


Frozen 2 and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Released Early
Free Classic Games to Download
Virtual Tours of 500+ Museums & Galleries

Coffee Break: When Life Goes Off-Script

We are all learning how to live in a new and constantly changing environment. Michael Higgins is the president of Ireland and demonstrates how to live in an unscripted world when one of his dogs comes to visit during a function.

See Brod break into a room full of strangers and look for his human.

Hey, we know you love us too since you’re down here at the bottom of the newsletter.  Would you do us a favor and forward this to someone who you think will enjoy Spotlight like you do? Tell them they can sign up for free.

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 March 9th. 

Information about coronavirus is changing fast. As a business or community leader, you need to rely on prime sources for your news.  We’ll address those today.

1. News To Know Now

1.  Apple will pay iPhone 6 and 7 users up to $25 per phone to settle a lawsuit over throttling processors. At issue was a battery problem that was fixed by a software update that also slowed the phone’s performance. Consumers filed suit alleging that the company slowed the device’s performance in order to generate new equipment sales. Read the details at Recode.

2. Twitter has launched an experimental feature in a Brazilian test market that causes some Tweets to disappear after 24 hours like Instagram and Snapchat stories. They’re calling the new content “fleets” because it’s designed to capture fleeting thoughts.

3. SETI@Home software that used a volunteer’s idle computer time for complex calculations and uploaded the results to researchers, is ending public participation on March 31st. The UC Berkeley based program was the first to enlist volunteers in a distributed computing project. Others followed suit, notably Folding@Home focused on genetics and World Community Grid focused on medicine, the human genome, and world hunger.

There are still programs that need your help. I’ve participated in the World Community Grid for years with over 770,000 others. Silver Beacon Marketing’s computers have donated more than 15 years of processing time to the project because all of those minutes when you’re not using your computer add up. Join us or learn more at IBM’s World Community Grid.

2. COVID-19 Information Online

The COVID-19 coronavirus apparently causes nowhere near the amount of sickness and death caused by influenza every year. Government, business, and health leaders understand the deadly trail influenza leaves, which is why flu shots are heavily promoted.

One important distinction between influenza and COVID-19 is that the sickness caused by the outbreak appears to more often result in death. The generally accepted rate of influenza fatalities is 0.1% The most recent World Health Organization rate for the COVID-19 outbreak is 3.4%. 

There are well-meaning people posting misinformation online. There are also scammers, price gougers and a lot of quickly outdated information. This set of smartlinks will help you learn reliable information that you want to know.

We will return to regular coverage next week. Meanwhile, you should always feel free to press reply and ask about any digital issues.

General Information (may contradict other government sources)

CDC Resources for Businesses
CDC Guidance for People 60+ or with health conditions
World Health Organization Situation Reports

Social Media News

Twitter expands conduct rules to ban dehumanizing speech around disease
Facebook provides WHO unlimited advertising for outbreak
YouTube is demonetizing videos about the outbreak
World Health Organization joined TikTok to reach people.
Pinterest Showing Custom Search Results for Coronavirus

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Crime

BBDO Agency Deploys Facebook Chatbot to Fight Disinformation
Why Amazon Can’t Stop Coronavirus Price Gougers
Cyber criminals taking advantage with fake websites & phishing
Fake cures and conspiracy theories are flooding WhatsApp
Google showing ads for anti-coronavirus products despite policy banning them
Misleading maps are distorting reality
State Dept: False personas from Russia  publish misinformation
Coronavirus email scams are trying to cash in on your fear

3. Coffee Break: Leny, the Golden Retriever

After this crazy week, we all need to pause thirteen seconds and watch a dog slide down a hill and joyously race back up to do it again.

Enjoy this video that racked up more than 8 million views in one week.