Stop overloading your Local SEO content!

Stop overloading your Local SEO content!

Developing content for your local business website is clearly important for search engine optimization, but that doesn't mean that more content is always better. Columnist Greg Gifford explains and suggests an alternative strategy.

  

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the road,

speaking at conferences and talking to marketers and business owners, and I’ve been having the “content” talk far too often lately. You know, the one that’s almost as awkward as sitting down with your kids to talk about the birds and the bees, but where you’re talking to a business owner and telling them that their last SEO agency duped them. For some reason, more than ever before, it seems like most business owners (and many marketers) are equating content with SEO. It’s like suddenly, the only thing that matters is content, content, CONTENT. If multiple pages aren’t added to the site every month, then obviously, no SEO has been performed.

Hopefully, everyone reading this knows that the “content, content, CONTENT” play is way off-base. The problem is that most business owners don’t know, and many of us aren’t doing a sufficient job of educating business owners to show them why. If there’s a huge disconnect between what marketers know and business owners believe, we’re all going to have problems keeping clients. So this month’s edition of Greg’s Soapbox is calling out the “content, content, CONTENT” play and showing why overloading on content is a bad strategy.

Lazy local content pages are usually doorway pages

In most cases, the local content play involves the monthly addition of “location” targeted pages to a website. Yes, this is a legitimate strategy when done correctly, but, in practice, most of the time the pages created are simply doorway pages. They’re thin pages without any useful content with the sole purpose of ranking in local searches. Google calls those doorway pages and actually penalizes sites for using them. Yep, this is old news — the penalty rolled out in 2015 — but I’m seeing a resurgence of doorway pages in local SEO over the past few months. If your site or your potential client’s site has a ton of pages that aren’t included in any menu, and they’re all basically the same page with different cities listed on each iteration, you’ve got doorway pages.

Let’s look at the official Google support docs that talk about doorway pages:

Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.

Here are some examples of doorways:

  • Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
  • Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
  • Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browsable hierarchy

Google’s early 2015 announcement about the Doorway Page Penalty is even more specific:

  • Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site, or are they an integral part of your site’s user experience?
  • Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?
  • Do these pages exist as an “island?” Are they difficult or impossible to navigate to from other parts of your site? Are links to such pages from other pages within the site or network of sites created just for search engines?

Since most of the low-quality local content pages clearly fail these questions, alerting business owners to these pages — and the possible penalty for having them — can go a long way toward helping them understand why continuing to push content pages out every month can be harmful.

It’s simple: are the pages there for humans?

If you’re a car dealer, and you’ve got 25 pages on your site about the 2017 Ford F-150, with each one targeting a different city, then you’re probably in bad shape. It’s likely that none of the pages are on your main menu, or even within one click of the main menu page. The pages probably all have the same photo of a truck and only a few sentences about how you sell that truck in that particular city. Do these pages provide any value at all for an actual human? Absolutely not.

Even if you rewrite the content 25 times, they’re still useless. Sure, they’re not “duplicate” pages, but they’re repetitive pages. They all say exactly the same thing, only with a different city mentioned. There’s zero value there. When you’re writing content for your site, or when your SEO agency is writing the content, you have to ask yourself if the content is being added to make your site better for users — or just to show up in search engines. If the thought process is “This will help me show up in searches in that city,” then your thought process is wrong. You’re not going to gain more visibility in searches in other cities simply by adding a few lazy pages to your site. Period.

How many pages do you really need?

Many business owners I talk to ask the question, “How many pages do I need?” and the answer is simple. You need however many you need to answer your customers’ questions. Simply adding 10 pages (or 15 pages, or 20 pages) of content a month won’t make your site any better than adding only a few poorly designed location or product pages.

In fact, your site will be infinitely better if you only add one or two quality pages every month. Once you’ve got your site where you need it, you don’t even need to keep adding pages! If you’ve decided to add 15 pages a month to your site, ask yourself where that number came from. Why 15? Why 20? What’s the strategy there, and what questions will you be answering? Local SEO is not only content. Many of the factors that affect your local SEO success don’t even live on your website. If you want to target other cities, it takes much more than creating a few repetitive location pages. For a detailed plan of a better way (involving content pages, blog posts, social media, and link building), check out my post from the summer of 2015 about Local Content Silos. Let’s all work together to educate business owners (and wayward agencies) and stop the local content vomiting once and for all!

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Stop oversimplifying everything!

Stop oversimplifying everything!

The old days of gaming Google's ranking algorithm are over, but columnist Eric Enge notes that many SEO professionals haven't moved on yet.

 

  

Once upon a time, our world was simple.

There was a thesis — “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine” by Sergey Brin and Larry Page — that told us how Google worked. And while Google evolved rapidly from the concepts in that document, it still told us what we needed to know to rank highly in search. As a community, we abused it — and many made large sums of money simply by buying links to their site. How could you expect any other result? Offer people a way to spend $2 and make $10, and guess what? Lots of people are going to sign up for that program.

But our friends at Google knew that providing the best search results would increase their market share and revenue, so they made changes continually to improve search quality and protect against attacks by spammers. A big part of what made this effort successful was obscuring the details of their ranking algorithm. When reading the PageRank thesis was all you needed to do to learn how to formulate your SEO strategy, the world was simple. But Google has since been issued hundreds of patents, most of which have probably not been implemented and never will be. There may even be trade secret concepts for ranking factors for which patent applications have never been filed.

Yet, as search marketers, we still want to make things very simple. Let’s optimize our site for this one characteristic and we’ll get rich! In today’s world, this is no longer realistic. There is so much money to be had in a search that any single factor has been thoroughly tested by many people. If there were one single factor that could be exploited for guaranteed SEO success, you would already have seen someone go public with it.

‘Lots of different signals’ contribute to rankings

Despite the fact that there is no silver bullet for obtaining high rankings, SEO professionals often look for quick fixes and easy solutions when a site’s rankings take a hit. In a recent Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout, a participant asked Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller about improving his site content to reverse a drop in traffic that he believed to be the results of the Panda update from May of 2014. The webmaster told Mueller that he and his team are going through the site category by category to improve the content; he wanted to know if rankings will improve category by category as well, or if there is a blanket score applied to the whole site.

Here is what Mueller said in response (emphases mine):

“For the most part, we’ve moved more and more towards understanding sections of the site better and understanding what the quality of those sections is. So if you’re … going through your site step by step, then I would expect to see … a gradual change in the way that we view your site. But, I also assume that if … you’ve had a low quality site since 2014, that’s a long time to … maintain a low quality site, and that’s something where I suspect there are lots of different signals that are … telling us that this is probably not such a great site.

(Hat tip to Glenn Gabe for surfacing this.)

I want to draw your attention to the bolded part of the above comment. Doesn’t it make you wonder, what are the “lots of different signals?” While it’s important not to over-analyze every statement by Googlers, this certainly does sound like the related signals would involve some form of cumulative user engagement metrics. However, if it were as simple as improving user engagement, it likely would not take a long time for someone impacted by a Panda penalty to recover — as soon as users started reacting to the site better, the issue would presumably fix itself quickly.

What about CTR?

Larry Kim is passionate about the possibility that Google directly uses CTR as an SEO ranking factor. By the way, do read that article. It’s a great read, as it gives you tons of tips on how to improve your CTR — which is very clearly a good thing regardless of SEO ranking impact. That said, I don’t think Google’s algorithm is as simple as measuring CTR on a search result and moving higher CTR items higher in the SERPs. For one thing, it would be far too easy a signal to the game, and many industries that are well-known for aggressive SEO testing would have pegged this as a ranking factor and already made millions of dollars on this by now. Second, of all, high CTR does not speak to the quality of the page that you’ll land on. It speaks to your approach to title and meta description writing and branding.

We also have the statements by Paul Haahr, a ranking engineer at Google, on how Google works. He gave the linked presentation at SMX West in March 2015. In it, he discusses how Google does use a variety of user engagement metrics in ranking. The upshot of it is that he said they are NOT used as a direct ranking factor, but instead, they are used in periodic quality control checks of other ranking factors that they use.

Here is a summary of what his statements imply:

  1. CTR, and signals like it, are NOT a direct ranking factor.
  2. Signals like content quality and links, and algorithms like Panda, Penguin, and probably hundreds of others are what they use instead (the “Core Signal Set”).
  3. Google runs a number of quality control tests on search quality. These include CTR and other direct measurements of user engagement.
  4. Based on the results of these tests, Google will adjust the Core Signal Set to improve test results.

The reason for this process is that it allows Google to run their quality control tests in a controlled environment where they are not easily subject to gaming of the algorithm, and it makes it far harder for black-hat SEOs to manipulate. So is Larry Kim right? Or Paul Haahr? I don’t know.

Back to John Mueller’s comments for a moment

Looking back on the John Mueller statement I shared above, it strongly implies that there is some cumulative impact over time of generating “lots of different signals that are telling us that this is probably not such a great site.” In other words, I’m guessing that if your site generates a lot of negative signals for a long time, it’s harder to recover, as you need to generate new positive signals for a sustained period of time to make up for the history that you’ve accumulated. Mueller also makes it seem like a graduated scale of some sort, where turning a site around will be “a long-term project where you’ll probably see gradual changes over time.” However, let’s consider for a moment that the signal we are talking about might be linked. Shortly after the aforementioned Office Hours Hangout, on May 11, John Mueller also tweeted out that you can get an unnatural link from a good site and a natural link from a spammy site. Of course, when you think about it, this makes complete sense.

How does this relate to the Office Hours Hangout discussion? I don’t know that it does (well, directly, that is). However, it’s entirely possible that the signals John Mueller speaks about in Office Hours are links on the web. In which case, going through and disavowing your unnatural links would likely dramatically speed up the process of recovery. But is that the case? Then why wouldn’t he have just said that? I don’t know. But we have this seeming genuine comment from Mueller on what to expect in terms of recovery with no easily determined explanation of what signals could be driving it.

We all try to oversimplify how the Google algorithm works

As an industry, we grew up in a world where we could go read one paper, the original PageRank thesis by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and kind of get the Google algorithm. While the initial launch of Google had already deviated significantly from this paper, we knew that links were a big thing. This made it easy for us to be successful ionGoogle, so much so that you could take a really crappy site and get it to rank high with little effort. Just get tons of links (in the early days, you could simply buy them), and you were all set. But in today’s world, while links still matter a great deal, there are many other factors in play. Google has a vested interest in keeping the algorithms they use vague and unclear, as this is a primary way to fight against spam.

As an industry, we need to change how we think about Google. Yet we seem to remain desperate to make the algorithms simple. “Oh, it’s this one factor that really drives things,” we want to say, but that world is gone forever. This is not a PageRank situation, where we’ll be given a single patent or paper that lays it all out, know that it’s the fundamental basis of Google’s algorithm, and then know quite simply what to do.

The second-largest market cap company on planet Earth has spent nearly two decades improving its ranking algorithm to ensure high-quality search results — and maintaining the algorithm’s integrity requires, in part, that it be too complex for spammers to easily game. That means that there aren’t going to be one or two dominating ranking factors anymore. This is why I keep encouraging marketers to understand Google’s objectives — and to learn to thrive in an environment where the search giant keeps getting closer and closer to meeting those objectives.

We’re also approaching a highly volatile market situation, with the rise of voice search, new devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Homecoming to market, and the impending rise of the personal assistants. This is a disruptive market event, and Google’s position as the number one player in search as we know it may be secure, but search as we know it may no longer be that important an activity. People are going to shift to using voice commands and a centralized personal assistant, and a traditional search will be a minor feature in that world.

What this means is that Google needs its results to be as high-quality as they possibly can make them. Yet they need to keep fighting off spammers at the same time. The result? A dynamic and changing algorithm that continues to improve overall search quality as much as they can. To maintain a stranglehold on that market share, and establish a lead, if at all possible, in the world of voice search and personal assistants.

What does it mean for us?

The simple days of gaming the algorithm are gone. Instead, we have to work on a few core agenda items:

  1. Make our content and site experience as outstanding as we possibly can.
  2. Get ready for the world of voice search and personal assistants.
  3. Plug into new technologies and channel opportunities as they become available.
  4. Promote our products and services in a highly effective manner.

In short, make sure that your products and services are in high demand. The best defense in a rapidly changing marketplace is to make sure that consumers want to buy from you. That way, if some future platform does not provide access to you, your prospective customers will let them know. Notice, though, how this recipe has nothing to do with the algorithms of Google (or any other platform provider). Our world is just no longer that simple anymore.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Artificial Intelligence Is Changing SEO: Get Ahead Or Fall Behind

Artificial Intelligence Is Changing SEO: Get Ahead Or Fall Behind

    

The AI revolution is upon us, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

It seemed like yesterday when things like automated social media posts, blog content, and chatbots were something laughable, not fully able to compete with human intelligence. However, these algorithms have accelerated almost to the point of reaching human logic, making marketers both excited and scared.

On one end, the idea of having our content and customer data be delivered to us in a way that’s way more efficient than ever before is incredibly enticing to content distributors. On the flip side, this is making content providers/writers nervous about whether their jobs are going to become obsolete. In spite of the ongoing debate, certain innovations are going to be here to stay, with SEO being one of the focus on the forefront. As quick as AI has been shifting the world of marketing in general, SEO has been following suit in a big way. Not only are things like keywords, metrics, and targeted ads going to become increasingly automated, but the possibilities of real-time data aggregation solutions are going to change the game for good. And luckily for you, below we’ve listed a few key points on how this will happen.

With AI, Marketing is Already Shifting Directions

Marketers have been salivating over the potential AI could have for years. As we’ve noted before, the opportunities are endless, ranging from programmatic systems for PPC and SEO to streamlining our sales pipeline more efficiently. Yes, AI and marketing are going to be inseparable in the near future, with many CMOs already taking notice. However, even with all these innovations, there’s plenty more on the way regarding how AI will impact SEO.

Automated Content Means Improved Keywords

It’s been predicted that AI will one day take over the content industry. In fact, a lot of this development is already underway, with the Associated Press reportedly deploying algorithms to write over 3,000 articles every quarter. These algorithms have now expanded into the realms of social media as well, with content marketing heavily in the targets.To some businesses, this is a pipedream, as suddenly they’re going to be able to hire a content generator that can spit out articles and posts much quicker than human capabilities. Moreover, algorithmic developments will be able to handle numerous types of articles spanning a variety of industries. When you factor in the potential breadth of these systems, including the obsolete cost of hiring actual writers, and the increased accuracy of keyword inclusion and optimization, the new industry of SEO and AI will be immensely powerful.

While some folks are still going to want a human voice powering or refining their content, these algorithms are going to be able to point out the best keywords to use in real time. Even though this technological development sacrifices human perspective and insight, the return is going to provide content providers with articles that could potentially lead to the top of search results almost every time. The jury is still out on the actual details as to how this type of content will be handled from the first draft all the way through publication, but it is expected that the impact of improved keyword strategy will make a significant difference.

Real Time Data is Going to Be Huge

One of the biggest impacts that AI will have on SEO is the speed that it offers to universal marketing efforts. As we mentioned above, not only will AI be able to aggregate and organize keywords and search terms, but it will additionally be able to pinpoint how to use these terms as well. Imagine being able to run tests on what terms will work best based on location, service, or even timing. Additionally, marketers will also be able to use these algorithms to use predictive models on how the response will turn out. This means that updating automated responses and search terms will occur instantaneously — cycling through which ones will achieve the highest ROI in a matter of seconds. The results of this fast-paced development will likely alter search term strategy and analysis for years to come.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

J.P. Morgan Chase invests $2.5 million in 4 Detroit small business development groups

J.P. Morgan Chase invests $2.5 million in 4 Detroit small business development groups

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is committing more than $2.5 million

to four Detroit-based small business development organizations, the New York-based global financial services firm announced Monday morning. The new grants, part of the $150 million commitment J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) has made to the city's economic recovery, will support TechTown, Southwest Detroit Business Association, Detroit Economic Growth Corp, and Eastern Market Corp.

The grants aim to help strengthen entrepreneurship in city neighborhoods and boost economic growth across Detroit, the company said. "Over the past three years, the firm's investment in Detroit has helped 1,800 small businesses receive technical assistance and provided loan and grant capital directly to 100 small businesses, including 44 entrepreneurs of color who could not get access to traditional financing," J.P. Morgan said in a news release. "Seven hundred jobs were also created or maintained as a result of this commitment."

The J.P. Morgan Chase Institute showed that 58 percent of consumer spending took place at small businesses within Detroit. Additionally, there are approximately 32,000 minority-owned small businesses in Detroit, according to the U.S. Census, which ranks Detroit as the fourth largest U.S. city for the number of minority-owned businesses. "Detroit's flourishing small business community is one of the most important drivers of an inclusive economy for the city," Janis Bowdler, head of Small Business Initiatives, J.P. Morgan Chase, said in the release. "… The success of the city's small businesses is driving neighborhood renaissance and creating vibrant urban corridors and local jobs."

The new small business investments are:

  • TechTown ($1.2 million):
    The grant is to support Retail Boot Camp, an eight-week program that prepares entrepreneurs to open brick-and-mortar retail locations in key Detroit commercial corridors, and SWOT City, a small business support program to help brick-and-mortar enterprises in six of Detroit's target neighborhoods for redevelopment launch, stabilize and grow.
  • Detroit Economic Growth Corp. ($725,000):
    To support economic development programs addressing three areas of need: foreign direct investment attraction, the Motor City Match program and the formation of an African-American business leadership council.
  • Eastern Market Corp. ($500,000):
    The investment will focus on expanding food entrepreneurship programs, enhancing expansion opportunities for Detroit food businesses, supporting equitable community development of the Eastern Market District and helping to provide EMC with sufficient organizational capacity to execute these programs.
  • Southwest Detroit Business Association ($110,000):
    This program aims to train and mentor small business owners to strengthen and establish their presence in Southwest Detroit. It offers bilingual 1-on-1 mentorship and food safety/business training/certifications, small business technical assistance and marketing support as well as direct assistance with site plan reviews, permitting and zoning and location challenges, among other things.

Earlier this month, J.P. Morgan Chase announced a $50 million increase in the $100 million investment it committed to economic development and neighborhood stabilization in Detroit during the depths of the city's historic bankruptcy three years ago. Half of the $150 million will be grants and the other half is going to toward a variety of loan funds for small business growth, mixed-use real estate development and residential housing projects, said Peter Scher, head of corporate responsibility for J.P. Morgan Chase.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Indiana Small Business Development Center helps launch novice entrepreneurs

Indiana Small Business Development Center helps launch novice entrepreneurs

  
Indiana Small Business Development Center helps launch novice entrepreneurs

INDIANAPOLIS (Statehouse File) —
Growing up in a family of business owners from Seattle, it was inevitable that Adam Perry would go on to do the same.Around 2010, Perry decided to get into the food truck industry. Taco Lassi, which specialized in IndianIndian-inspired, was one of 12 food trucks that were running when the city hosted the Super Bowl. Taco Lassi isn’t in business anymore but that introduction into the food industry inspired Perry to continue in the business.Now, he owns a quaint doughnut shop called General American Donut Co., which opened its doors in July 2014 just south of downtown across from Eli Lilly.

“We were going up to Chicago quite a bit, and we became a fan of the doughnut scene up there,” Perry said. “I always remembered lines around the block and people really into the craft doughnut thing, and Indiana didn't have a craft doughnut shop.” Like many entrepreneurs, starting out was a challenge. Perry didn't know how much went into making doughnuts from scratch or the management side of running a business. “We literally just jumped into it not knowing how to make doughnuts,” Perry said. After roughly six months of developing the right doughnut recipe and then another year and a half learning how to be consistent, Perry finally felt comfortable with the baking process.

“If you want to do it and you’re passionate about something, no matter what time it is, you just do it,” Perry said. “Because there’s never going to be a perfect time, and there’s always going to be a risk.”As Adam Perry was developing his doughnut business, he later realized that he would run into some learning curves. He and his wife have now learned to overcome the challenges of developing their product. (TheStatehouseFile.com Photo/Nicole Hernandez) As Perry was developing his doughnut business, he later realized that he had a learning curve. He and his wife worked hard to overcome the challenges they faced, such as developing their product, making it from scratch, hiring and managing their employees, and keeping a handle on their finances.

This is where the Indiana Small Business Development Center comes in. Founded in 1985, the center is a resource for small business owners as well as future small business owners who may be hesitant to take that first step because of the risk. They help new business owners create a business plan, secure funding, understand their business demographics, match with banks, and develop a strategic plan – the kind of resources that would have helped Perry had he known of the organization. In addition, the center offers other specific resources to help minorities and veterans. All services are free.

The Indiana Small Business Development Center’s goal is to have businesses return to them for help and engage with long-term clients as well as finding new businesses to help. The development center is also partnered with other consulting organizations in the state to help business owners connect with the people and resources to meet their individual needs. In 2016 alone, 248 businesses got their start in Indiana and created 949 new jobs, which added almost $81 million to the economy, according to the development center. Troy Phelps, associate state director for the Indiana Small Business Development Center, said the number of annual business startups has remained consistent over the last five years.

"The fact that Indiana is able to keep that fairly consistent, I think, speaks to the things that Indiana has in place," Phelps said. "You look at the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative, and we’ve got the $1 billion Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative that is specifically designed to make more of these programs available to small businesses. And that’s spread over the next 10 years." The Regional Cities Initiative, led by then-Gov. Mike Pence in 2015, was created to help communities across the state with strategic regional development plans. Currently, Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan to invest $1 billion in innovation and entrepreneurship in Indiana will focus on collaboration and strategic partnerships.

What also makes the center so beneficial to would-be business owners is that the organization has a very close relationship with the state government. General American Donut Co. was inspired by the craft doughnut scene in Chicago. (TheStatehouseFile.com Photo/Nicole Hernandez) “In a nutshell, we are taxpayer money at work,” Phelps said.  The organization gets half of its funding from the federal government’s Small Business Administration. The other half is funded by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and a local host match. These local host matches are typically universities or local chambers of commencing.

Freedom Healthworks, a business partner that helps physicians start their own practices, launched in 2014 and two years later connected with Indiana Small Business Development Center. By reaching out to the center, which also worked closely with Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Freedom Healthworks received performance incentives, grants for training programs and funding to expand beyond its team of six employees. It also received help with start-up strategies and processes to run the business. “Having these types of incentives out there definitely spurs us to go out there and hit those milestones,” Chris Habig, co-founder of Freedom Healthworks, said. “The training side of it opens up a lot of doors that we just didn't have the cash or resources to be able go pursue.”

Habig credits the Indiana Small Business Development Center with connecting him to successful business owners who want to help others launch their own companies. “It doesn't sound like much, but being able to pick up a phone and call somebody who has achieved in the business world is hugely valuable,” Habig said. “And that is one of the great things about being in Indianapolis –

People are very giving of their time to try to help you out.”

Although many local businesses around the city have their initial challenges, for Perry, owning his own business is just what he felt he was meant to do after growing up in a family of small business entrepreneurs, and his General American Donut Co. is holding its own. "We were lucky to grow up and see that it is possible, and normal people do it all the time,” Perry said. “We didn't question it; we just did it. We saw how hard they worked, and you realize that when you want something, it’s not going to be a nine-to-five job.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Coinbase Hopes For Cryptocurrency’s ‘Netscape Moment’ With New App, Token

Coinbase Hopes For Cryptocurrency's 'Netscape Moment' With New App, Token

“Digital currency right now is having its Netscape moment” declared Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong at the Ethereal Summit, in Brooklyn, in a presentation about the cryptocurrency company’s most recent product, Token, “a messaging app with money baked in.” Speaking at the Ethereum-focused day-long conference featuring players in the decentralized web, Armstrong said that the Ethereum-based Token, in developer preview and unveiled a month ago, has four main features that show off the potential for innovation in blockchain-based products. First, it enables payments “in every country in the world from day 1,” he said. Plus, the payments are international. The users themselves, as opposed to financial institutions, are in control of the money they put in it. And the platform has its own reputation system, which Armstrong compared to a FICO score, “so you know who and which applications and people you can trust.”

Finally, Token can be used to make payments to apps. For instance, a Mechanical Turk-type app could enable users to do discrete tasks for small payments, but the workers could then be paid in actual money instead of in Amazon gift cards, which is how non-U.S. workers on Mechanical Turk are paid. Armstrong also envisions that Token, which is based on Ethereum, will host apps ranging from currency exchanges to marketplaces, remittance services to lenders,

advice services to cell phone top up providers.

Armstrong’s bold comparison of Token to Netscape,

the first widely popular web browser indicates the company’s hope that Token gains widespread consumer adoption. To begin, Coinbase, which so far has offered its services in developed countries such as the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and Singapore, plans to promote Token in the developing world. Later this year, Armstrong will travel to Nigeria to foster development on the platform.

The comparison to Netscape also suggests Armstrong’s hope that Token ushers in a new stage of evolution in the industry, to a phase in which more consumers interact with blockchains and cryptocurrency but are not necessarily aware that they are doing so. Coinbase’s timing has historically been right. The startup began attracting a following in 2012 in what was then the tiny bitcoin community for making it safe and simple to buy bitcoin with your bank account. In 2015, responding to growing institutional interest in cryptocurrency, it launched Coinbase Exchange since renamed Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX), for professional traders.

Now the company is trying to help the industry mature beyond these basic building blocks of a blockchain-based world to have more consumer-facing offerings. In its development of Token, the company created a new protocol called Simple Open Financial Application that makes it easier for developers to build apps for a platform such as Token. In the past, a well-known bitcoin developer who attempted to build a simple bitcoin app spent eight months to get it to work, whereas a developer using SOFA got an app up and running in eight hours. “If it’s that much easier to build these applications, we’re going to see several orders of magnitude more applications being created,” he said, comparing SOFA to the development of simple web programming languages like html and Javascript. He then invited developers to participate in a hackathon beginning June 3 to build applications for Token.

Because Token is more like a web browser than an app store, Armstrong says Coinbase will not be vetting apps that list on Token, though it will be choosing which ones to feature. When asked how the company would deal with apps that are, say, stealing people’s money, he compared it to how the web browser Google Chrome will warn a user if it thinks a site they’re trying to visit has malware or otherwise looks suspicious. “I’m not saying we have zero responsibility,” he told Forbes, adding that Token is not like an app store. “We want to educate users about what they’re using, and if they’re going to do something dangerous, make sure they really know what they’re doing.”

The company, which has raised $110 million from investors incumbents such as the New York Stock Exchange, USAA and BBVA, does not currently have plans to make money from Token though Armstrong said it could lend itself to some possible business models down the line, such as charging for pro features or for usage above a certain number of transactions a month. In his presentation, referring to a popular Chinese messaging app, he called Token “a WeChat for the other 180 countries in the world” and said that it would be like putting a bank in the pockets of every person in the world, which, according to McKinsey, said that financial services on mobile phones could add $3.7 trillion to the GDP of emerging economies within a decade. It's an ambitious goal, but a fitting one for a company whose mission is to "create an open financial system for the world."

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Cryptocurrency wallet Jaxx secures more than 70 new partners and integrations

Cryptocurrency wallet Jaxx secures more than 70 new partners and integrations

  

Decentral, a Toronto-based innovation hub for decentralized and blockchain technologies,

today announced that its flagship product, Jaxx, a leading user-controlled, multi-asset, multi-platform digital currency wallet, and exchange, has secured more than 70 new partners and integrations. These integrations and partnerships will help bolster Jaxx’s objective to create a unified, cross-platform experience for all blockchain assets and become the ultimate command center for all things blockchain. Just as the browser unleashed the power of the Internet, Jaxx aims to be the tool that brings digital currencies and digital assets to the masses.

We are bringing together all facets of the blockchain ecosystem with Jaxx to provide a universal interoperable interface so that non-technical people, like my dad, can easily use these decentralized technologies. Simple tools and intuitive UI / UX will bring adoption to the masses and assist all projects and companies.
Anthony Di Iorio, Founder and CEO of Decentral & Jaxx

According to the official release, the following partners will integrate with the Jaxx universal key management system and backend blockchain infrastructures to create a simple point of entry into various areas of blockchain technology – including user-controlled payments and exchange, identity, communications, value movement, privacy, smart contracts, document signing, and decentralized storage: RSK Labs, BitPay, Coinbase, Purse.io, Bittrex, Blockchain Capital, BitGo, Civic, Changelly, Trezor, Ledger Wallet, Opendime by Coinkite, QTUM, Coinfabrik, Signatura, Wall of Coins, and Bitnovo.

We’re excited to partner with the like-minded team at Jaxx who are making it easy for users to securely manage and transfer their blockchain assets.
Bill Shihara, CEO of Bittrex.com

Future Coin and Token Addition Roadmap

Jaxx also today announced that it will be working with teams and communities from Ripple, Monero, Tether, Stellar Lumens, PIVX, Factom, Steem, NEM, QTUM, Bytecoin, Bitshares, MardSafeCoin, Siacoin, Waves, Lisk, Omni, Stratus, GameCredits, Ardor, SingularDTV, Round, Decred, NXT, Byteball, DigiByte, FirstBlood, IExec RLX, Emercoin, Syscoin, Etheroll, Komodo, Namecoin, Storjcoin, Chronobank, Melonport, WeTrust, Counterparty, TokenCard, Matchpool, Edgeless, Xaurum, CreditBit, MonaCoin, NovaCoin, RubyCoin, Bitcrystals, BitShares, BlackCoin, Expanse, Gulden, Namecoin, NAV Coin, NEM, Peercoin, PotCoin, Tezos and Wings among others to bring more projects into Jaxx across all platforms and devices. These new tokens and coins join Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Augur, Golem, Gnosis, DigixDAO, Iconomi, Zcash, Dogecoin, RSK Testnet, and Blockchain Capital to make Jaxx the most versatile, non-custodial wallet with a built-in crypto-exchange available.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

The $80 billion question: Why are Bitcoin and Ethereum growing so fast?

The $80 billion question: Why are Bitcoin and Ethereum growing so fast?

 

A little over two months ago, Bitcoin achieved a symbolic milestone: After an intensive period of growth, the price of one Bitcoin surpassed the price of an ounce of gold. That seems like ancient history. The price of Bitcoin has nearly doubled since then and the cryptocurrency is currently trading at about $2,200. Bitcoin's cousin Ethereum is trading at about $180, its price increasing by a cool 1400% in the last three months. But is the rally over, or has it only just begun? And what has propelled the explosive growth in the first place? In the world of cryptocurrencies, answering these questions is anything but easy. 

A new breed of cryptocurrencies

To start, it's important to understand that Bitcoin, while still the biggest cryptocurrency around, is not the only — arguably not even the biggest — driver of growth anymore. According to Coinmarketcap, the total vale of all major cryptocurrencies put together now stands at around $79 billion. Bitcoin accounts for less than half of that, with a $35 billion market cap, while Ethereum and Ripple have grown to $17 and $13 billion, respectively. 

A couple of years ago, one Bitcoin was worth a little over a hundred dollars. Now, it broke the $2,000 barrier and is growing like a weed.The digital coin market cap is a frequently quoted number that means nothing and everything, depending on your viewpoint. If you believe that Bitcoin will ultimately replace money, then $35 billion is pocket change. But it may never happen, and even if it does, Bitcoin might be left behind. 

Bitcoin is still by far the most promising as both a digital currency and a payment platform. But the new breed of digital coins are very different. Litecoin, an early Bitcoin competitor, has once again taken the spotlight after having recently adopted SegWit, a software update that solves the scaling problem that has been dividing Bitcoin's community for years. Ethereum is a modern cryptocurrency which promises advanced features such as smart contracts. It wants to become a blockchain-based foundation for what is essentially a new type of internet. How's that for ambition?

The value of (digital) money

When the price of a commodity or a stock rises, you can usually point to some sort of reason. When Apple has a good quarter, its stock price generally goes up. When catastrophe strikes, uncertainty in global markets typically increases demand for what are viewed as safer investments such as gold, propelling prices upward. But in the world of Bitcoin, the digital cryptocurrency that doubles as a decentralized payment system, you've got a lot less to go on. A lot of the recent Bitcoin news wasn't good. In April, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission declined a bid by the Winklevoss brothers to get their Bitcoin ETF listed on the Bats BZX exchange. The move would have made it far easier for the average investor to speculate on the future of Bitcoin. 

And over the last couple of years, the Bitcoin community has been bitterly divided over a question on whether the size of blocks on the cryptocurrency's blockchain — the fundamental technology upon which the Bitcoin protocol relies — should be increased or not (read a simple explanation of the block size debate here). Still, the price of Bitcoin went from roughly $400 to more than $2000 in a year, and other cryptocurrencies followed suit. Why?

So what's happening?

Cryptocurrency experts we've contacted say developments in Japan are the likely cause for this latest price surge. "The Japanese have given bitcoin the green light as a currency and are looking to increase the rigour that their exchanges are subject to," said Charles Haytar, CEO of market analysis platform CryptoCompare. On a purely technical level, the current price differences in the Japanese markets and elsewhere offer the possibility of arbitrage, Hayter claims, but there's a great deal of plain old greed going on, too. 

The price difference in Japan and other markets offer the possibility of arbitrage, and some traders are taking advantage. "Lots of inexperienced investors are surging into the market, and it's causing a bit of a bubble," said Hayter. Jörg von Minckwitz, CEO of blockchain-based payment service Bitwala, points out that Ethereum has seen additional growth due to the rise of ICO (initial coin offering) based projects. In other words, to invest in a new project, you have to buy into Ethereum.

"Many crypto projects raise money from the community to develop their projects and most of them use ETH to raise money. ETH set a standard, so it is way easier to start with ETH. The result is that many people buy ETH to be able to invest in the projects and many of the ICO projects hold the money afterwards in ETH. That drives the price up," he told Mashable. None of this, however, explains the fact that a lot of the growth happened before the developments in Japan and the onset of multi-million Ethereum-based projects. It also doesn't give us a much better idea of realistic value of one Bitcoin or one Ether. Go to any Bitcoin-related community, and you'll see price predictions ranging from $40,000 to zero. 

While that second prediction sounds dramatically pessimistic, consider this: Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile. The price of Bitcoin, for example, slumped from more than a $1,100 in Dec. 2013 to less than $200 in Jan. 2015. The most recent rise in price is not permanent. Experts agree that cryptocurrencies rely heavily on user adoption, and however crazy the market may look like now, it's still early days for cryptocoins. Right now, it's easy to raise $10 million or $20 million for your Ethereum-based business, and

more businesses will flock to seize the opportunity. 

Ten years from now, will we be receiving our paychecks in fiat, or Bitcoins?

And while wide adoption of Bitcoin as a payment platform is happening at a relatively slow pace, trading cryptocurrencies has gotten a lot easier in recent years. Exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken, and BitStamp now let you turn dollars and euros into BTC and ETH. This has definitely propelled some of the market's growth; when you see something increase in value tenfold within a month, you want to be a part of the action. The question is: how far will the price go? 

Is it time to dive in, or rush out?

Predicting the price changes in any market is tough; the old advice from the likes of Warren Buffett says you should put your money in a stock index fund and let the experts trade, as the short-term movements of the market are incredibly difficult to predict.

When I started writing this article on Friday, the market cap of all cryptocurrencies was $63 billion. It took one weekend for the market to add $16 billion in value.

It's even tougher to predict a highly volatile market such as cryptocurrencies. Add to that the relative youth of all the exchanges you can trade on, and the dangers are even bigger: If the price of Bitcoin starts falling rapidly, don't count on stop-loss measures to save you from impending doom.  Both Hayter and von Minckwitz agree that in short-term the prices in the cryptocurrency markets are overvalued, but they are positive about long-term growth. Hayter is a bit more pessimistic, though, comparing some of the Ethereum-based ICOs to the South Sea Bubble (referring to the British South Sea Company, whose stock price rose sharply in the early 18th century before it collapsed). 

"I would not advise anyone to buy (cryptocoins) right now. I’m worried that the lack of rationality at this point might hurt the market," said Hayter. For an illustration of this lack of rationality, consider this: When I started writing this article on Friday, the market cap of all cryptocurrencies was $63 billion. It took one weekend for the market to add $16 billion in value. Eat that, Uber. That said, one way to look at cryptocurrencies is to read up, and make an informed decision on their long-term prospects. Is Bitcoin just a fad? If so, it might already be overrated. But if you think that this technology could change the way money — or the entire Internet — works, there's plenty room for growth in the future.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Ethereum’s Price Briefly Surpasses $200 as Bitcoin Soars past $2,100

Ethereum’s Price Briefly Surpasses $200 as Bitcoin Soars past $2,100

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts will have a hard time figuring out

which chart to look at first right now. Bitcoin is seeing significant gains, pushing the price to new heights over $2,100. Ethereum is on a massive tear as well, rocketing to the $200 mark overnight. There is so much action going on, it is hard to say what we can expect next. Always be careful when buying at the top, though, as cryptocurrency volatility can cause an immediate reversal at times.

Everything is Booming In Crypto

It is rather uncommon to see so many things go up in value at the same time in the cryptocurrency world. Not too long ago, a Bitcoin price increase would often lead to alternative currencies plunging in value. That is no longer the case by any means. Instead, we now see major currencies go up simultaneously, as investors are scrambling to invest money in cryptocurrency right now.

To be more specific, the cryptocurrency market cap has undergone some major growth these past few weeks. About two weeks ago, we were still hovering between $40bn and $45bn. A more than respectable amount at that time, that much everyone could agree on. Bitcoin was the major cryptocurrency at that point, as it has the largest market cap. That has not changed all that much, despite the Bitcoin Dominance Index slowly reducing Bitcoin’s dominance to below the 50% threshold. Fast forward to today, and the cryptocurrency market cap sits at $79.665bn. That is nearly double the amount we were at not that long ago. A lot of people are still puzzled as to where this money is coming from, and more importantly, what is being invested in. Bitcoin’s recent price surge is a direct result of fresh capital, as it remains the top cryptocurrency in the world. With a market cap pushing toward US$37bn, no one can deny the success Bitcoin has had over the past few years.

However, Bitcoin is not the only top dog to keep an eye on these days. Ripple’s XRP asset has seen an influx of capital these past few weeks, although it is seemingly running out of steam once again. The most recent Litecoin bull run did not materialize either, despite a brief spike to a much higher price. Both of these investment opportunities may be rebound at any given time, though, but for now, they are both in consolidation mode. The biggest gains are made by Ethereum as of right now. Less than a week ago, one ETH was valued at just under $100. Today, it is worth just over $200, according to Coinmarketcap. That is a major change in value over the course of one week. Some experts even predict ETH will surpass the $500 mark by the end of the year. Quite a bold statement, but given the way things are evolving in cryptocurrency right now, anything can happen.

It was only a matter of time until Ethereum saw a major price outbreak, though. A lot of people felt this currency has been undervalued for quite some time now. It will be interesting to see how the ETH price evolves over the coming weeks and months. Reaching the $500 mark seems a long way away, but it is not unlikely it may happen. Then again, speculation is running wild during times like these. Always trade with caution, and do not get caught up in the hype.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

BitConnect Coin Sees Massive Growth Amid a Surge in Adoption

BitConnect Coin Sees Massive Growth Amid a Surge in Adoption

Bitcoin Press Release: Cryptocurrency newcomer, BitConnect Coin (BCC) sees continued growth after announcing previous records in value and market capitalization.

  

The UK-based Bitcoin startup,

BitConnect is witnessing continued growth of its BitConnect Coin cryptocurrency. The growth trend follows the company’s previously announced records in value and market capitalization during Q1 2017.

The open source, community driven P2P cryptocurrency only entered the market on the 11th of January 2017 but recorded a market capitalization of $10 million (USD) and a value of $2.00 (USD), within weeks of its initial listing on the popular ‘CoinMarketCap’. This growth saw the cryptocurrency breach the top 20 chart for alternative coins in total capitalization value for the first time. Since then, BitConnect Coin (BCC) has continued to soar and has continuously broken records in both value and market capitalization. On April 13, 2017, BCC recorded a market capitalization of just under $90 Million (USD) at a unit value of $15.01 which signifies a 900% growth in market capitalization and a 700% increase in value over a period of three months.

At the time of these records, BCC surpassed the long established LiteCoin (LTC) in terms of unit value and overtook the widely used Dogecoin (DOGE), in total market capitalization. BitConnect Coin’s exponential growth has been attributed to its rapid adoption and a strong community presence. Unlike other cryptocurrencies that require centralized exchange platforms, BitConnect can be traded directly between community members, which makes the selling of cryptocurrency much quicker and easier than some of its competitors. BitConnect’s Head of Development, Satao Nakamoto while describing the

cryptocurrency’s mission stated,

“BitConnect’s mission is to provide crypto-education and multiple investment opportunities to empower people financially. There are many features and functions to come in 2017. BitConnect’s mission is to become the leading crypto-community in the world when it comes to functionality and user base by the year 2020.”

BCC has been compared to Bitcoin in terms of growth and community consensus. But since its inception, the adoption and subsequent growth of BCC has been much faster. The current trends indicate that a continued growth at same pace will turn BitConnect Coin into a formidable cryptocurrency in the market, making it an ideal investment for cryptocurrency investors.

BitConnect is the source of this content. Virtual currency is not legal tender, is not backed by the government, and accounts and value balances are not subject to consumer protections. This press release is for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute investment advice or an offer to invest.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Be As You Are ….