Become a credible Android expert by creating 14 cool apps — learn how for only $17


Android is where the world stands today, so learn to create for the Android environment with the Complete Android Developer course, which you can get right now at over 90 percent off — just $17 — from TNW Deals.

Google admits it was serving ads on the ‘ad-free’ YouTube Red


Earlier this week, we reported that Google was purportedly serving ads on its premium YouTube Red service, which promises an ad-free watching experience across the board. The internet giant has now admitted it was indeed running ads on Red – which should be fully ad-free – blaming the erroneous occurrence on a technical issue. The initial ad complaint came from a small group of peeved Red subscribers that took to Reddit to raise their concerns. In fact, one user shared a response from a YouTube representative that suggested the ads in question were part of another format – print ads…

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Computer science degrees don’t always result in hefty pay bumps, but that doesn’t make them pointless


Data released by Stack Overflow earlier this morning suggests that obtaining a computer science degree only translates into a modest pay bump. Stack Overflow’s 2017 Developer Ecosystem report shows those with Computer Science degrees only earn £3,000 more per annum compared to those without. On average, developers without a university education reported earning £35,000 ($47,500) yearly. Those with a bachelors degree reported yearly average earnings of £38,000 ($51,500). For context, tuition fees in the UK typically hover around the £9,000 ($12,200) mark. This suggests that the typical route into the software development industry might not offer the expected return-on-investment, in terms of…

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How to create a kickass link-building strategy for local SEO

Link-building is a tried and tested SEO tactic, and although there are a number of dubious ways to go about it, at base developing a strong link-building strategy is a smart and very necessary way to get your site ranked above your competitors.

This is particularly true of local SEO, where a few savvy tactics for building links and relationships with other local businesses can give you a huge visibility boost in local search.

According to the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors, inbound links are the most important ranking signal.

But if you’ve run through all the usual methods of getting inbound links, what can you do to give your site – or your client’s site – a leg up in search?

At Brighton SEO last Friday, master of local SEO Greg Grifford shared some “righteous” tips for a kickass link-building strategy, in his signature flurry of slides and movie references – this time to 80s movies.

How link-building differs in local SEO

With local small businesses, said Gifford, you have to think about links in something other than pure numbers. Which is not to say that quantity doesn’t help – but it’s about the number of different sites which link to you, not the sheer number of links you have full stop.

With local SEO, all local links are relevant if they’re in the same geographical area as you. Even those crappy little church or youth group websites with a site design from the 1990s? Yes, especially those – in the world of local SEO, local relevance supersedes quality. While a link from a low-quality, low-authority website is a bad idea in all other contexts, local SEO is the one time that you can get away with it; in fact, these websites are your secret weapon.

Gifford also explained that local links are hard to reverse-engineer. If your competitors don’t understand local, they won’t see the value of these links – and even if they do, good relationships will allow you to score links that your competitors might not be able to get.

“It’s all about real-world relationships,” he said.

And once you have these relationships in place, you can get a ton of local links for less time and effort than it would take you to get a single link from a site with high domain authority.

So how should you go about building local relationships to get links? Gifford explained that there are five main ways to gain local links back to your business:

  1. Get local sponsorships
  2. Donate time or volunteer
  3. Get involved in your local community
  4. Share truly useful information
  5. Be creative in the hopes of scoring a random mention

Practical ways to get local links

These five basic ways of getting local links encompass dozens of different methods that you can use to build relationships and improve your standing in local search.

Here is just a sample of the huge list of ideas that Gifford ran through in his presentation:

Local meetups

Go to meetup.com and scout around for local meetups. A lot of local meetups don’t have a permanent location, which gives you an opportunity to offer your business as a permanent meeting venue. Or you can sponsor the event, make a small investment to buy food and drink for its members, and get a killer local link in return.

Local directories

Find local directories that are relevant to the business you’re working with. Gifford emphasized that these should not be huge, generic directories with names like “xyzdirectory.com”, but genuine local listings where you can provide useful information.

Local review sites

These are easier to get onto than bigger review websites, and with huge amounts of hyperlocal relevance.

Event sponsorships

Similar to sponsoring a local meetup, a relatively small investment can get you a great link in return. Event sponsorships will normally include your logo, but make sure that they also link back to your site.

Local blogs & newspapers

Local bloggers are hungry to find information to put on their blogs; you can donate time and information to them, and get a killer blog post and link out of the equation. The same is true of local newspapers, who are often stretched for content for their digital editions and might appreciate a tip or feature opportunity about a locally relevant business.

Local charities

Local charities are another way to get involved with the community and give back to it – plus, it’s great for your image. By the same token, you also can donate to local food banks or shelters, and be listed as a donor or sponsor on their website.

Local business associations

Much like local directories, it’s very easy to get listed by a local business association, such as a local bar dealer’s association – make sure there’s a link.

Local schools

These are great if you’re on the Board of Directors, or if your child or your client’s child is at that school. Again, getting involved in a local school is a good way to give back to the community at the same time as raising your local profile and improving your local links (both the SEO and the relationship kind).

Ethnic business directories

If you’re a member of a particular ethnic community who runs a local business, you can list your business on an ethnic business directory, which is great for grabbing the attention – and custom – of everyone in that community.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should only do this if it genuinely does apply to your business.

Gifford’s presentation contained even more ingenious ideas for local links than I’ve listed here, including local guides, art festivals and calendar pages; you can find the full list on his Slideshare of the presentation.

Gifford advises creating a spreadsheet with all your link opportunities, including what it will cost or the time it will take you. Make sure you have all of the relevant contact details, so that when it comes time to get the link, you can just go and get it. Then present that to your client, or if you’re not working on behalf of a client, to whichever individual whose buy-in you need in order to pursue a link-building strategy.

In fact, Gifford has even put together a pre-made spreadsheet ready for you to fill in, and you can download it here: bit.ly/badass-link-worksheet

Decide what links to go after, and go and get them; then, after three months, wipe the spreadsheet and repeat the process.

Some important points to bear in mind

So, now you’re all set to go out and gather a cornucopia of local links, all pointing right at your business, right? Well, here are a few points to bear in mind first.

A lot of times, the people you approach won’t know what SEO is, or even what digital is. So be careful about how you go about asking for a link; don’t mention links or SEO right off the bat. Instead, focus on the value that will be added for their customers. “This is not about the link; this is about the value that you can provide,” said Gifford.

Once again, for the people at the back: it’s about building up long-term, valuable relationships which provide benefit to you and to the local community. When it comes to local SEO, these relationships and the links that you can get will be worth more than any links from big, hefty high-domain-authority (but locally irrelevant) websites.

Or in Gifford’s words: “Forget about the big PR link shit. Go really hard after small, local links.”

We desperately need ethical algorithms – here’s why


Algorithms have taken over our lives. That’s not an exaggeration, nor the plot of a futuristic movie: it’s the reality. Algorithms used to be something we could use to our benefit, to automate everyday processes like buying a train ticket or to help us choose where to go on vacation. Now, we’ve reached the point where almost all of our decisions are actually determined by algorithms.   This transformation is of particular interest to Sander Klous, Partner for Data and Analytics at KPMG in the Netherlands. For a firm like KPMG – one of the Big Four auditors – which relies…

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Watch Microsoft’s AI suck at captioning gorgeous city landscapes on Twitter


Earlier this year, Microsoft opened up its Custom Vision framework to the public, empowering researchers and enthusiasts to effortlessly build and experiment with AI models; and it seems crafty users are already finding interesting ways to put the technology to use. Recreational AI-ficionado Geoff Boeing, who is currently completing a doctorate degree in urban planning at the University of California, Berkeley, has leveraged Microsoft’s computer vision algorithm to build a bot that captions gorgeous city landscapes. CityDescriber, as Boeing calls his invention, currently resides on Twitter, where you can follow its awkwardly phrased visual descriptions. All images are sourced from Reddit’s…

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HTC is gearing up for a big announcement tomorrow, possibly Google acquisition


If reports from earlier this month and new developments today are anything to go by, Google is almost certainly going to acquire Taiwanese phone maker HTC this week. That’s good news for HTC, and good news for Pixel fans too. This company knows how to make good hardware, and has had some clever ideas in the past, like the squeezable U11 and the Vive VR headset. It’s believed to be manufacturing the search giant’s next Pixel 2 flagship handset. It also previously partnered with Google to make the Nexus 9 tablet in 2014. Fun fact: HTC also made one of my…

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New Course: Optimize Your Website Without AMP

Google's AMP is a very useful collection of plug-and-play code to help you optimize your website. But there are times when you might want to go it alone. In our new course, Optimize Your Website Without AMP, you'll learn why you might decide not to use AMP in certain circumstances, and how you can do just as good an optimization job using other techniques.

Envato Tuts+ instructor Kezz Bracey will take you through the full process of converting an existing AMP-based site to use non-AMP equivalents. You'll learn some useful methods to make your sites run blazing fast, but where the optimization techniques are those you decide on for yourself.

Screenshot from Optimize Your Website Without AMP

You can take our new course straight away with a subscription to Envato Elements. For a single low monthly fee, you get access not only to this course, but also to our growing library of over 1,000 video courses and industry-leading eBooks on Envato Tuts+. 

Plus you now get unlimited downloads from the huge Envato Elements library of 300,000+ photos and 34,000+ design assets and templates. Create with unique fonts, photos, graphics and templates, and deliver better projects faster.

 

This Facebook group about eating chips is the last pure thing on the internet


If there is a single innovation worth saving from the wreck of modern history, it is the humble potato chip. This salty, savory delicacy, first popularized during the Industrial Revolution, is now a staple of the national diet: Americans individually eat an average of 4 pounds of chips per year, for an annual nationwide total of 1.5 billion pounds. To be honest, these figures sound a bit low to me. By a conservative estimate, I’d guess I’m eating at least 4 pounds of chips weekly. That’s not great news for my blood pressure — even if chips are the “healthiest unhealthy snack” —…

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The only safe email is text-only email


It’s troubling to think that at any moment you might open an email that looks like it comes from your employer, a relative or your bank, only to fall for a phishing scam. Any one of the endless stream of innocent-looking emails you receive throughout the day could be trying to con you into handing over your login credentials and give criminals control of your confidential data or your identity. Most people tend to think that it’s users’ fault when they fall for phishing scams: Someone just clicked on the wrong thing. To fix it, then, users should just stop…

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