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“But I can just Google it.”

I was staring across my desk at a mop-haired young man who was interviewing for a Java software developer position on my team. He was responding to a question about memory management, but he wasn’t really answering the question.

He hemmed and hawed for a few seconds and that’s when he blurted his Google answer.

This young gun obviously didn’t know the answer to my question. Yet from his perspective there was a feeling of “who cares?” because the answer could always be Googled.

(Doesn’t “Googled” sound better than “Binged” – which is actually a real word with bad connotations? Something Microsoft overlooked in their focus groups! But I digress…)

Back to the young man sitting in my office. Actually, “young dude” would be more appropriate. He showed up to the interview in sandals, baggy pants, and a very colorful button-down shirt with a skinny tie.

(Is that even appropriate, even in the casual world of software development?Sure, our company had a casual dress culture, but I was always taught to dress conservatively for an interview because you can’t change a first impression. Sorry, I digressed again.)

My goal when interviewing a developer is not just to see how smart they are, but whether they’ll be a fit for our culture and work well within our team. Not that fitting is enough – they need real skills. If someone is a great guy (or gal), but can’t answer a moderately tough question – like “what ‘s the best algorithm to maintain a free list for heap-based dynamic memory allocation?” – then they won’t receive a job offer.

Is this unreasonable? Upon further reflection, maybe it is.

When I was first interviewing for jobs as an IBM mainframe developer, I took many written tests about COBOL, JCL and CICS. I knew going in that there would be a test, so I prepared for it.

And in one case, I had a headhunter provide me with a sample test. I simply memorized the answers. And, lo and behold, when I sat down to take the actual test I was pleasantly surprised: it was identical to the so-called “sample test” the recruiter had provided.

Well, I aced it and got the job offer. And I felt no guilt because in my mind I remember thinking “but I can just look it up anyway.” Hmmm, I think I had a good point.

Now, how different was that from this Johnny-developer sitting across from me with his Google answer? Why memorize anything when you can easily look it up?

He was actually being more honest about it, wasn’t he?

There was no World Wide Web when I was interviewing for those jobs back in age of “big iron.” But we did have manuals and books. So I could and did look up basic syntax or solutions to tricky problems.

But my situation isn’t really comparing apples to apples. Here’s why.

Back in the day, if I came across a challenging problem during my design of a COBOL application, I’d get out my COBOL II manual and check the index. Let’s say, looking for examples of using reference modification (i.e. string manipulation).

I’d likely find it under “R” and see a bunch of page numbers that may or may not have what I’m looking for. I’d flip through those pages. If I didn’t find what I was looking for, I’d get out another book written by some COBOL expert and go through the same index search.

And if I didn’t find the answer there, I’d get in my car and go to the library or bookstore to continue my search.

One thing we did have was email, so I could also email a bunch of my colleagues to see if they had recommendations. But I had to wait on their responses and in those days people weren’t constantly checking email.

My point is that this process could take a very long time, taking a big chunk out of my productivity.

Today, Johnny-developer can simply Google “reference modification examples” – and presto!I did this for kicks and found The University of Limerick computer science department provided a few good examples. That’s fitting, given that Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. But I needed no Irish luck to find this answer. I needed only Google.

So maybe Johnny-developer’s Googling answer was the right one. Perhaps asking direct questions about syntax or other such things that can be easily referenced online is not the best approach to determine how smart a developer is.

What I really needed to know is: can Johnny-developer use logic to solve problems on his own and as part of a team, while showing true understanding of the platform he’ll be working on?

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Google Maps Makes It Easier To Find Restaurants And Bars

Google is now rolling out new features, announced last month, which make it easier for users to find local restaurants and bars that match their tastes.

The majority of these new features exist in the redesigned “Explore” tab.

New “Explore” Tab

When viewing a location in Google Maps, users can tap on the “Explore” tab to get recommendations for restaurants, bars, and cafes within the area.

Top Hot Spots

A new section, called “The Foodie List,” will rank the top spots in a city based on trending lists from local experts as well as Google’s own algorithms.

“Your Match” Scores

When viewing the listing for a restaurant or bar, a new feature called “Your Match” will provide a numeric rating that tells a user how likely they are to enjoy a place based on their own preferences. This is determined based on previous reviews and browsing history.

In addition, users can tell Google Maps about their food and drink preferences so the app can surface better recommendations. This can be done from the “Settings” tab, where users can select the types of cuisines and restaurants they like.

Personalized Recommendation Hub

A brand new new “For You” tab will keep users informed about everything happening in areas they care about. This could include areas near their home, work, or a city they visit frequently.

Users can also follow a particular neighborhood to instantly see if there’s a hot new restaurant in the area, a new cafe that’s a perfect match, or if a favorite dining spot is in the news.

Android Exclusive Features

A feature exclusive to Android will let users automatically keep track of how many of the top ranked spots they’ve visited.

Also exclusive to Android is a feature that will surface the top events and activities happening within a particular area. Users can see photos, descriptions, and filter by categories like “good for kids,” “cheap” or “indoor or outdoor.”

To start using these new features, just update the Google Maps app from the App Store or Play Store.

Domain Age: Is It A Google Ranking Factor?

Does Google favor older, established domains in its search results?

These are just a couple of the questions surrounding domain age as a ranking factor – a topic that has been hotly contested and debated during the past two decades.

We know that Google at least considered it as part of a document scoring algorithm at one point in time.

Read on to learn whether domain age is really a Google search ranking factor.

The Claim: Domain Age As A Ranking Factor

The claim here is twofold:

The longer Google has had a domain in its index, the more it will benefit your search ranking.

The longer the domain is registered, the more it will benefit your search ranking.

Basically, here’s the argument:

Let’s say you registered two domains, one in 2010 and the other in 2023. Until three months ago, you never published a piece of content on either site.

That means Google will consider the 2010 domain “stronger” – simply because it was registered more than 10 years prior to the second site, and it should have an easier time ranking.

Does that seem logical?

The Evidence For Domain Age As A Ranking Factor

Back in 2007, some folks in SEO believed domain age to be one of the top 10 most important ranking factors.

More recently, some have pointed to this Matt Cutts video as “proof” domain age is a Google ranking factor.


Because in it, Cutts said: “The difference between a domain that’s six months old versus one-year-old is really not that big at all.”

To some, this makes it sound like Google uses domain age as a ranking signal – although perhaps not a very important one.

The Evidence Against Domain Age As A Ranking Factor

The thing is, that video is from 2010.

And here’s what else Cutts actually said:

Registrar data doesn’t matter at all. It’s too difficult to gather and Google doesn’t have access to enough of it for it to be a reliable signal.

What Google was able to measure was when the site was first crawled and when the site was first linked to by another site.

Even then, he stated,

“The fact is it’s mostly the quality of your content and the sort of links that you get as a result of the quality of your content that determine how well you’re going to rank in the search engines.”

A 2005 patent application called “Information retrieval based on historical data” by Matt Cutts, Paul Haahr, and several others gives us a bit more insight into how Google perceived these domain signals at the time.

The patent outlined a method of identifying a document and assigning it a score composed of different types of data about its history.

This data included:

Information about its inception date.

Elapsed time measured from the inception date.

The manner and frequency in which the content of the document changes over time.

An average time between the changes, a number of changes in a time period, and a comparison of a rate of change in a current time period with a rate of change in a previous time period.

At least one of the following: the number of new pages associated with the document within a time period, a ratio of a number of new pages associated with the document versus a total number of pages associated with the document, and a percentage of the content of the document that has changed during a time period.

The behavior of links relate to at least one of appearance and disappearance of one or more links pointing to the document

There’s a lot more, but already you can see this patent was never only about domain age.

There are elements of links and content quality/freshness in here, too.

Domain age may have been a factor back then. But there’s no clear evidence it was a direct ranking factor so much as a weak signal inside of a more comprehensive document history score (and that was/maybe still is the ranking factor… maybe).

In any case, John Mueller has been clear on this one:

Domain Age As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Google has said domain age is not a ranking factor – and we have no reason to doubt them on this one.

How long you register your domain doesn’t matter to Google’s search algorithm.

Buying old domains won’t help you rank faster or higher. In fact, you could inherit junk links or other negative associations that could hurt your SEO efforts.

But again, that’s not purely because of the age – it’s what happened to that domain during those years.

Bottom line: Google does not use domain age as a direct search ranking signal.

Featured image: Paulo Bobita

What Is A Google Broad Core Algorithm Update?

When Google announces a broad core algorithm update, many SEO professionals find themselves asking what exactly changed (besides their rankings).

Google’s acknowledgment of core updates is always vague and doesn’t provide much detail other than to say the update occurred.

The SEO community is typically notified about core updates via the same standard tweets from Google’s Search Liaison.

There’s one announcement from Google when the update begins rolling out, and one on its conclusion, with few additional details in between (if any).

This invariably leaves SEO professionals and site owners asking many questions with respect to how their rankings were impacted by the core update.

To gain insight into what may have caused a site’s rankings to go up, down, or stay the same, it helps to understand what a broad core update is and how it differs from other types of algorithm updates.

After reading this article you’ll have a better idea of what a core update is designed to do, and how to recover from one if your rankings were impacted.

So, What Exactly Is A Core Update?

First, let me get the obligatory “Google makes hundreds of algorithm changes per year, often more than one per day” boilerplate out of the way.

Many of the named updates we hear about (Penguin, Panda, Pigeon, Fred, etc.) are implemented to address specific faults or issues in Google’s algorithms.

In the case of Penguin, it was link spam; in the case of Pigeon, it was local SEO spam.

They all had a specific purpose.

In these cases, Google (sometimes reluctantly) informed us what they were trying to accomplish or prevent with the algorithm update, and we were able to go back and remedy our sites.

A core update is different.

The way I understand it, a core update is a tweak or change to the main search algorithm itself.

You know, the one that has between 200 and 500 ranking factors and signals (depending on which SEO blog you’re reading today).

What a core update means to me is that Google slightly tweaked the importance, order, weights, or values of these signals.

Because of that, they can’t come right out and tell us what changed without revealing the secret sauce.

The simplest way to visualize this would be to imagine 200 factors listed in order of importance.

Now imagine Google changing the order of 42 of those 200 factors.

Rankings would change, but it would be a combination of many things, not due to one specific factor or cause.

Obviously, it isn’t that simple, but that’s a good way to think about a core update.

Here’s a purely made up, slightly more complicated example of what Google wouldn’t tell us:

“In this core update, we increased the value of keywords in H1 tags by 2%, increased the value of HTTPS by 18%, decreased the value of keyword in title tag by 9%, changed the D value in our PageRank calculation from .85 to .70, and started using a TF-iDUF retrieval method for logged in users instead of the traditional TF-PDF method.”

(I swear these are real things. I just have no idea if they’re real things used by Google.)

For starters, many SEO pros wouldn’t understand it.

Basically, it means Google may have changed the way they calculate term importance on a page, or the weighing of links in PageRank, or both, or a whole bunch of other factors that they can’t talk about (without giving away the algorithm).

Put simply: Google changed the weight and importance of many ranking factors.

That’s the simple explanation.

At its most complex form, Google ran a new training set through their machine learning ranking model and quality raters picked this new set of results as more relevant than the previous set, and the engineers have no idea what weights changed or how they changed because that’s just how machine learning works.

(We all know Google uses quality raters to rate search results. These ratings are how they choose one algorithm change over another – not how they rate your site. Whether they feed this into machine learning is anybody’s guess. But it’s one possibility.)

It’s likely some random combination of weighting delivered more relevant results for the quality raters, so they tested it more, the test results confirmed it, and they pushed it live.

How Can You Recover From A Core Update?

Unlike a major named update that targeted specific things, a core update may tweak the values of everything.

Because websites are weighted against other websites relevant to your query (engineers call this a corpus) the reason your site dropped could be entirely different than the reason somebody else’s increased or decreased in rankings.

To put it simply, Google isn’t telling you how to “recover” because it’s likely a different answer for every website and query.

It all depends on what everybody else trying to rank for your query is doing.

Does every one of them but you have their keyword in the H1 tag? If so then that could be a contributing factor.

Do you all do that already? Then that probably carries less weight for that corpus of results.

It’s very likely that this algorithm update didn’t “penalize” you for something at all. It most likely just rewarded another site more for something else.

Maybe you were killing it with internal anchor text and they were doing a great job of formatting content to match user intent – and Google shifted the weights so that content formatting was slightly higher and internal anchor text was slightly lower.

(Again, hypothetical examples here.)

In reality, it was probably several minor tweaks that, when combined, tipped the scales slightly in favor of one site or another (think of our reordered list here).

Finding that “something else” that is helping your competitors isn’t easy – but it’s what keeps SEO professionals in the business.

Next Steps And Action Items

Rankings are down after a core update – now what?

Your next step is to gather intel on the pages that are ranking where your site used to be.

Conduct a SERP analysis to find positive correlations between pages that are ranking higher for queries where your site is now lower.

Pay attention to the content itself. As you go through it, ask yourself questions like:

Does it provide a better answer to the query than your article?

Does the content contain more recent data and current stats than yours?

Are there pictures and videos that help bring the content to life for the reader?

Google aims to serve content that provides the best and most complete answers to searchers’ queries. Relevance is the one ranking factor that will always win out over all others.

Take an honest look at your content to see if it’s as relevant today as it was prior to the core algorithm update.

From there you’ll have an idea of what needs improvement.

Keep focusing on:

User intent.

Quality content.

Clean architecture.

Google’s guidelines.

Finally, don’t stop improving your site once you reach Position 1, because the site in Position 2 isn’t going to stop.

Yeah, I know, it’s not the answer anybody wants and it sounds like Google propaganda. I swear it’s not.

It’s just the reality of what a core update is.

Nobody said SEO was easy.

More resources:

Featured Image: Ulvur/Shutterstock

What Is A Circular Economy? Why Is It Relevant Today?

blog / Sustainability What is a Circular Economy? Is it as Important as Reports Suggest?

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What is a Circular Economy?

According to the World Economic Forum, a circular economy is “an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.” Therefore, it may be an oversimplification to relegate the economy to the age-old reduce-reuse-recycle approach. Instead, it is a larger concept that, in restructuring the system, demands an overhaul of the established production and consumption patterns.

In his paper titled The Product-Life Factor, Walter Stahel, Founder and Director of the Product-Life Institute, Geneva, put forth the concept of a closed-loop economy. This, in turn, laid the foundations of what is a circular economy. Here, he argued for a gradual transition towards sustainable living by increasing the utility of products and reducing the pressure on natural resources. A circular economy transforms goods nearing the end of their useful life into resources for reuse. Furthermore, closing the loops in the industrial mechanism substitutes production for sufficiency and workforce for energy. Therefore, a circular economy significantly diminishes greenhouse emissions, empowers the workforce, and results in a low-carbon economy.

Linear Economy vs Circular Economy

Circular initiatives differ from the linear system in how value is created and preserved. In the latter, the movement of raw materials to the finished product and ultimately to the landfill is unidirectional. Such an economic system is fuelled by profit margins and quantity, rather than effectiveness and quality. On the other hand, the circulatory system is optimized for maximum value preservation through reuse, be it of products or their components. Therefore, it entails a movement from excessive manufacturing to resource efficiency.

Moreover, a circular economy shifts the onus of natural restoration and preservation from developing and fringe communities to developed countries. The effects of ecological degeneration are disproportionate: 74 of the poorest countries are the hardest hit by the climate crisis but contribute to less than one-tenth of global greenhouse gas emissions. A circular economy is a potential solution to this deeply unfair predicament, one that is only furthered by a linear system.

What are the Different Models of Circular Economy?

There are two circular economy models: one encourages reuse through remanufacturing and repair, and the other employs recycling to create resources. In a human-centric model, owners become custodians, and users have the agency to become creators. This, in turn, creates jobs at the local level, thus positively impacting employment.

For instance, have you noticed that a well-known clothing brand H&M offers discounts to customers who return old clothes from the brand that they are going to discard? H&M recycles these discards to make new clothes and sells them at a higher price point as ‘sustainable fashion’. This is a win-win for the planet and the company. Firstly, the brand has reduced wastage and gained a good reputation for it. Secondly, they have incentivized the customers to gain their loyalty. Thirdly, they have targeted the market segment that buys sustainable clothing. All this at once! This is an example of the agency-centric model. 

Why is a Circular Economy Important?

A circular economy gains immense significance in the face of unprecedented climate change. As the United Nations’ International Resource Panel noted, a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the extraction and processing of natural resources. By prioritizing material recovery over material production, circularity reduces the impact of such emissions.

When implemented correctly and inclusively, a circular economy has the potential to protect an endangered environment, foster social equity, and boost sustainable economic progress. Furthermore, it offers respite for vulnerable communities who face disproportionate threats of displacement and extreme poverty under the present system.

A circular economy also imbues businesses with a greater sense of corporate social responsibility, which is actionable and trackable. Such benefits result from the three foundational principles of a circular economy: 

Elimination of waste

Circulation of products and materials

Regeneration of the natural environment

How Does a Circular Economy Work?

Once viewed as a utopian concept, a circular economy is fast gaining traction as one of the most promising solutions to sustainability issues. Despite diverging opinions, sociopolitical barriers, and amorphous definitions of the term, it has recently spurred businesses, governments, and individuals to action. But how does a circular economy function?

As opposed to the current linear economy, the circular model emphasizes retaining the value of goods, transference, and continuous utility. Within the model, there is little place for wasteful economic activities that harm human life and endanger the planet. Doing so, greatly mitigates pollution and congestion.  

A circular economy has a hawk-eyed focus on designing goods that are inherently reusable, recyclable, and fit for remanufacturing. The idea is to keep materials in circulation for as long as possible, thus using a variety of them in different ways instead of simply disposing of the elements.  

By taking the spotlight away from fossil fuels and non-renewable sources of energy, a circular economy aims to regenerate the ecosystem and foster preservation. In practice, it actively replenishes the soil by returning valuable nutrients often lost in the present economic model. Therefore, the environmental benefits of a circular economy are undeniable and quite easily achieved if executed mindfully. 

What are the Barriers to a Circular Economy?

Despite the increasing spotlight on circular economies, implementation has been slow. In addition to the lack of awareness, competence, and the right mindset, economic factors greatly hinder the growth of circular solutions. 

Some of these challenges are:

Inadequate investment

Lock-in barriers

However, the most significant barrier to circular economies is that it needs an extensive and well-functioning supply chain, which becomes difficult due to the unavailability of raw materials. Material is insufficient, in terms of quality as well as quantity, for recycling and reuse. Further, even in the case of availability, it is inefficiently handled by fragmented parties which sabotage the process. These factors lead to uncertainty and feasibility issues coupled with high transaction costs and a lack of universal market standards.

What is the Environmental Impact of a Circular Economy?

Although there’s a long way to go in implementation, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has already noted several case studies that reflect the environmental benefits of a circular economy. Spanning a range of industries and sectors, the circular economy has made good on its promises of sustainable business, inclusivity, social justice, and human welfare. Let’s take a look at some of the examples.

In the field of biodiversity, the Orongo Cattle Station in New Zealand has restored degraded land using sustainable design, leading to more profits simultaneously. Many players in the food industry, like De Clique, are now striving for zero-waste production processes while São Paulo is investing in circular practices by supporting local agriculturists. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, two-thirds of the global population will live in cities by 2050, consuming 75% of the world’s natural resources. However, cities like Cape Town and Austin offer a silver lining in their attempts to transition to circular economies.

The ecological impact of a circular economy is clear by now. Reducing waste and shifting to recycling make way for a greener future and sustainable business growth. So we may as well place our bets on it as the only viable solution to the looming threat of irreversible climate change. 

Want to learn more about circular economy and business sustainability? Head over to Emeritus’ sustainability courses to delve deeper into the subject!

By Deyasini Chatterjee

Write to us at [email protected]

WordPress Jetpack: What Is It And Is It Worth Installing?

Some of the many benefits of the self-hosted chúng tôi is its out-of-the-box features and its flexibility via plugins and themes.

Many choose chúng tôi over chúng tôi for increased access and control over a website. However, chúng tôi does come with some valuable features that require a plugin to be used on chúng tôi One of those is the WordPress Jetpack plugin.

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What Is The WordPress Jetpack Plugin?

Jetpack is a suite of productivity, security, and optimization tools, developed by Automattic and used on all chúng tôi sites.

There is also a Jetpack plugin version for chúng tôi users who want the same features on a self-hosted website. Jetpack connects you to a chúng tôi account and gives you access to features you didn’t previously have.

Jetpack comes pre-installed with WordPress from many hosting companies. Users must first sign up for a chúng tôi account to gain access to all Jetpack features. Then activate the plugin on the self-hosted chúng tôi installation.

Is The WordPress Jetpack Plugin Free?

Upgraded versions provide additional security and performance functions such as automated backups and spam filtering. They are:  

Personal: $3.50/month ($39 yearly)

Premium: $9/month ($99 yearly)

Professional: $29/month ($299 yearly)

There are three ways to install the free version of the WordPress Jetpack plugin. 

Download it from the WordPress repository.

Use the Jetpack Wizard.

Jetpack’s modules vary in functionality from important features such as backups and site stats to minor features such as Gravatar hovercards and post likes.  

Jetpack Modules & Features

From there you can deactivate modules you don’t want to use or keep the default settings as is.

The free WordPress Jetpack plugin features include:

WordPress Security: Downtime monitoring and protection from brute-force attacks.

WordPress Performance: Lazy loading image and unlimited image and static file hosting.

Traffic and Revenue: Automated social media posting, actionable site statistics, and showing related content to keep visitors on your site longer.

Site Activity: Shows activity records of everything that happens on your site for the 20 most recent events.

Free Jetpack users also get standard email support.

There are dozens of modules available from Jetpack. Some are free, and some require an upgrade for access. Below are the most popular and useful:

Security modules

Security is the most critical feature of Jetpack.

Protect and prevent brute force attacks

Monitor site for downtime

Update plugins

Site backups

Scan for malware and protect with automated resolution

Appearance Modules

Load next posts automatically with infinite scroll

Optimize, cache, and serve images from chúng tôi CDN

Use conditional rules for when to display specific widgets

Only load images on the screen to boost page speed with Lazy Image feature

Display images in tiled galleries

Engagement Modules

Add sharing buttons to pages and posts

Extra sidebar widgets such as Twitter timelines, RSS links, and Facebook like boxes

Keep visitors on your site longer by showing related posts

Automatically share newly published content on your social media profiles

Use shortcodes to embed tweets, YouTube videos, and other media

Writing Modules

Use shortcodes to create simple contact forms

Add custom post types to your website

Publish blog posts using any email client

Add a grammar checker tool to proofread content before publishing offers many plugins to accomplish some of the above functions. However, Jetpack offers them all in one place.

Advantages Of Using Jetpack

Because Jetpack’s core functionality is free, there is no need to spend a lot of money on other premium plugins. The WordPress Jetpack plugin is maintained and frequently updated. More features are continually being added to the plugin.  

It is an excellent way to add more features and functionality to a standard WordPress experience quickly and easily using a single plugin without having to worry about coding.

The massive number of different categories and modules offered with Jetpack can slow down your site. Do not enable all of them if you want your website running quickly. 

There are many submenus and toggle switches. It could be cumbersome to find the modules you want to enable or disable. Professionals don’t all agree on whether Jetpack slows sites down or not. Some users find that it does slow down their site significantly.

On the other hand, some users believe there are security risks involved when connecting your account. If you have privacy concerns, Jetpack might not be your best solution.

Should You Install Jetpack On Your Website?

The answer is it depends. Do you need the functionality provided by Jetpack’s modules? How many will you use?

If you will only use a few of the modules, it makes more sense to use other plugins that serve the same purpose. This will avoid the extra bloat that comes with Jetpack.

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