Foursquare Introduces ‘Super-Specific’ Search And Filter Options For iOS And Android To Help You Find New Venues
As Foursquare evolves, it wants to help you find either new places to check out or lead you to places where your friends have already been. Mixed in with that is recommendation technology to show you places that you might be interested in based on where you’ve been before. Today, Foursquare updated its iOS and Android apps with an advanced search option that lets you control how the service seeks out new venues for you.
In its blog post today, Foursquare “dares” you to get “super specific” with your searches. Basically, the company is saying that they have enough data to find any place that you could imagine. One of the example searches is: “A cheap sushi place that’s nearby and open now, but that I haven’t been to yet.” Again, this is a search performed based on all of the data that Foursquare has collected over the years, but its first move into a more conversational search experience. Companies like Google are jumping on this bandwagon as well.
When you perform a search like the one suggested above, you just get results as you’d normally expect. Foursquare is processing these inquiries surprisingly fast, which means that you’re likely to settle on a place quickly:
The interesting part comes with the new filter options, where you can home in on a venue based on whether you or a friend have checked in before, by price, if the venue has a special or if you’ve saved it to check out later:
With these dynamic search and filter options, Foursquare has made the jump to become a true utility that might even cancel out a Google search or a Yelp deep-dive. That’s a pretty bold thought, but when you think about how much data Foursquare has, a lot of things that we haven’t even seen yet are possible.
The filter options make all of this data more manageable and of course, usable, to get you to try out more places. It’s also an incentive for more businesses to adopt Foursquare’s offerings, such as specials. If people start filtering their searches in the way that Foursquare suggests, then it behooves these restaurants and bars to have multiple specials lined up and ready to go. Think of it as a highlighted ad in Google search.
TechCrunch » Social
PopExpert Online Video Education Marketplace Raises $2M In Seed Funding From Learn Capital And Others
As edtech startups continue to challenge the current state of higher education, and various niche startups focus on educating people through digital means, yet another company is getting a boost when it comes to helping people learn.
PopExpert, a learning marketplace that lets students connect with experts in one-on-one video chats, has just raised a $ 2 million seed round led by Learn Capital, with participation by Jeff Skoll, Ken Howery, Michael Chasen, and Expansion VC.
The site’s premise is simple: users can sign in and search for what they want to learn. Right now there are experts in multiple fields across the spectrum of “life, work, and play,” including meditation, nutrition, relationships, productivity, career mentoring, language and music.
Once you log in, you can search for something like “yoga” and see a list of experts, validated with credentials and tagged with a price per session. From there, just choose your expert, schedule the session, and get ready to learn. PopExpert even facilitates payments, so the entire process can be completed in one place.
According to the company, one-to-one learning is “vastly superior” to any other method.
“We are focused on areas that relate more to EQ development than IQ development, for example meditation vs. Excel training and personalized style vs. photography techniques,” explained founder Ingrid Sanders. “These areas of EQ development are particularly suited to personalized interaction with an expert, and a one-to-one interaction is by far the most efficient way to experience them.”
For now, the service is only available by invitation, but there are already more than 1,000 experts using the service to teach and make some money. PopExpert recruits these experts after doing their own mini head-hunt, looking through reviews, online sources, and books to find the best possible teachers for the platform.
PopExpert generates revenue by taking a small service fee from every transaction.
Personal Profile Page Startup About.me Is Ready To Take Your Money With New Premium Service, Plans For Wefollow Integration
About.me, the online identity platform that spun out from Aol* at the beginning of the year before acquiring the one-time Digg spinout Wefollow, is now lifting the curtains on its plans to generate revenue, with today’s debut of About.me Premium. Via this new, paid tier to the service, the company is adding some of the more advanced features users have requested, including domain mapping, Google Analytics integration, the ability to remove the About.me branding, and more, for a $ 4 per month fee. And that’s just to start.
This is the first time About.me has charged users for any aspect of its service, co-founder Ryan Freitas tells us. With today’s release, the site will begin to offer features aimed at professional users, like the ability to display their About.me page on their own custom domain name – the most in-demand user request to date, he says. The site will walk users through the process of adjusting their DNS settings to map the new domain to their page.
To accompany this change, Premium users can also remove the branding on their page, which includes the “about.me” logo and the top navigation bar entirely. However, branding won’t entirely disappear. A small button at the bottom will still say “me,” pointing those who are interested to more details about the About.me service.
Users will also be able to check site statistics using Google Analytics, and jump to the front of support queues with priority email support. The company isn’t yet committing to a guaranteed turn-around time, however, because they’re currently unsure what user support volume will be. But Freitas says the company has always taken support seriously, and is now staffing up on the customer service side of the business.
The company also announced its future plans with Premium, which speaks to how it will integrate the technology acquired by the purchase of Wefollow, which today still serves as a discovery tool that helps Twitter users find others to follow by interest.
“There will be a secondary tier that allows for people who want to be discovered,” explains Freitas. “We’re going to be able to create a paid tier using the algorithms from Wefollow to promote [users] into a variety of different mechanisms that we’ll be unveiling over the next few months,” he says.
This will include a search directory, similar to the one Wefollow offers today, as well as tools that will allow premium users to pay for better search placements. “That will probably be one of the first things we roll out – improved search and promoted search,” Freitas adds.
About.me is working on improvements to its mobile application, which launched around a year ago. The app today serves more as a mobile-optimized way to use About.me’s service, by allowing users to create personal pages, discover and network with others, and similar to another startup called Highlight, it also helps you find nearby people. That latter feature – serendipitous discovery – hasn’t proven to be as successful a use case as originally thought, however. On mobile, the app needs to find a way to have a regular draw – something that would addict users to have them checking it or using it often.
What that might be is a little bit up the air, but when we asked Freitas if the company would ever want to inch into the “social contacts” space to compete with apps like Brewster or Cobook, for instance, he didn’t rule it out.
“I think there’s a defined space for mobile apps that try to handle contacts,” he says. “I think that if we were to do something, we would take a little bit of new tack on it…We know we have a little time to experiment, but we know we need to update the app.”
Premium tiers for the social service aren’t the only potential sources of revenue for About.me. Though the company today offers a variety of page customization tools, it’s in desperate need of complete themes where everything from font choice to background images is chosen for those users (ahem) lacking design chops.
Freitas agrees that’s an avenue they want to explore, noting that the WordPress theme marketplace model is “fantastic,” and that there is a “cohort of users who needs our help, and would love to be able to purchase those things.”
But that’s further down the road.
The new subscription-based Premium tier, however, is live today. You can sign up from the About.me homepage here.
Disclosures!: About.me’s previous owner, Aol, is TechCrunch’s parent company. CrunchFund, a fund backed by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, also invests in the startup.
TechCrunch » Social
After announcing its deal to acquire Tumblr for $ 1.1 billion, mostly in cash, Yahoo today started to lay out some of the details for how it intends to make use of the property while trying to stick to its promise “not to screw it up.” Expect more advertising by next year as well as more Tumblr content on Yahoo properties, but more of a cautious step as to how Yahoo will deal with some of Tumblr’s more NSFW content.
Here are some of the more interesting details revealed in the call:
What are Tumblr ads going to look like? Tumblr apparently made only $ 13 million in revenues last year but CEO David Karp apparently thinks the site is “ready” to make more now that it understands its users, according to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. But she also noted that they will be working from a challenged position, not just because of user resistance but because Karp himself has been “skeptical” about online ads.
In the conference call, Mayer made an early reference to how Tumblr would be able to make good use of Yahoo’s advertising technology, in ways that fit Tumblr’s so-far successful, image-based, quick-blogging, youth-oriented format — what she called “native advertising formats.”
As one example, she pointed to an ad format that Yahoo launched at the end of April, in-stream ads that it runs on its news pages. “On Tumblr we feel we can monetize in ways that are meaningful and add to user experience,” she said. She cited the Tumblr dashboard, or as she called it, the inbox for the blogs you follow. “Today Tumblr already does some ads in that feed. We would like to look at that and understand how to introduce more ads where the ads fit the expectations and follow that form and function.” She also noted that Yahoo may possibly work with bloggers to provide ads that will be run with their permission.
On top of this, expect to see more search ads: there are also plans to integrate Yahoo’s search functionality into the site as well. “We think there is a complelling search story,” said Mayer. “Their body is 50b posts and 5 billion posts of original content so search is already vast. We see an opportunity to integrate with search and provide that. That’s one area we are excited by the acquisition.”
Throughout this, a focus on trying to be Tumblr-centric about whatever Yahoo tries to do there. “It’s not a choice between creativity and monetization,” insisted Mayer.
So when are those ads coming? CFO Ken Goldman said that ad revenues from Tumblr will be “modest” this year — the acquisition is not expected to close until the second of of 2013 — but that they will “ramp up” in 2014 “and beyond.” “We do think those revenues will start monetizing materially [and] will contribute to revevenues in 2014 and beyond,” he said on the call, “not just standalone for Tumblr but also incrementally, helping Yahoo to growth.”
Porn? The NSFW, notorious part of Tumblr was never referred to by name, but an analyst did ask about what Yahoo, while courting mainstream brands to market to that attractive Tumblr audience, would do about content that is not “brand safe”. “The richness and breadth of the content… is what makes it more exciting,” enthused Mayer. “In terms of addressing concerns around brand safety we need to have good tools for retargeting.” [Another acquisition, methinks? In any case, no outright announcement that Yahoo intends to get rid of all those sites that Tumblr has more or less accepted into the fold.]
Mayer continued: “Tumblr is now at the point that they do know what it is and what makes sense to monetize in way that is tasteful.” She also mentioned due diligence but also something else, effectively implying that Yahoo will figure out a way of getting around the NSFW content and serving ads where they want them to go, because that’s what the advertisers want: “There are a lot of marketers eager to participate in Tumblr platform and the demographics,” she said.
What does the $ 1.1 billion “substantially in cash” mean? Goldman noted that it’s effectively an all-cash deal, save for some shares in Yahoo for David Karp. He also noted that Yahoo still has “ample cash” for more acquisitions and investments, to the tune of about $ 6.2 billion. These will not likely be along the lines of Tumblr in terms of size. “This is an exceptional company and team,” she said of Tumblr. At 300 million monthly unique users, Yahoo is paying about $ 3.67 per user for the acquisition.
Complementary properties. Mayer made a lot of the fact that Tumblr and Yahoo actually fit “really beautifully together,” like South America and Africa, in her words. In addition to Yahoo skewing older and Tumblr skewing younger, “We are strong on sports, finance and news; Tumblr’s strong on architeture, travel and fashion. We need great tools for content publishing and creation. They have them. Tumblr prides itself as a home for brands. Yahoo is all about brands.”
Tumblr comes to Yahoo. While a lot of the expectation so far has been about how Yahoo may mess up or spiff up or monetize up Tumblr, another theme that emerged during the call was the idea of Tumblr content going out to Yahoo properties — a way of attracting users to Yahoo that may not have gone there before.
“Our strategy is to let Tumblr be Tumblr,” said Mayer. “There are some who will always prefer Tumblr and will never come to Yahoo. [But] as we pull Tumblr content into our news feed and media experiences it will cause them to become that much more interesting and richer and will cause more to come to Yahoo. I imagine engagement will improve as we incorporate that content.”
Flickr. There is a separate news conference today that will likely concentrate on updates to Flickr, but today Mayer appeared to douse out speculation that it will be a move to begin integrating its online photo site with Tumblr in any way: “In terms of how the content of Tumblr evolves it depends on the creators,” Mayer said in answer to a question of what this acquisition will mean for Flickr. “It’s something that we will turn our attention to in the future. It will provide great storage, but we will see how those two cousins should relate to each other.
Image: Tumblr (where else)
TechCrunch » Social
A backend change from Google that snuck in amongst all the high-profile changes to search, Google+ and Google Now at Google I/O: its Google Compute Engine (GCE) infrastructure-as-a-service offering is now open to anyone. More »
One of the first things I always do when we take over content development for a new client is to perform a quick content audit on their current blog. I do this for one main reason: It almost always highlights a few low-hanging fruit (blog posts) that can be optimized to immediately start ranking better in search results and drive more traffic.
In fact, this works so often that it kind of shocks me that companies don’t immediately turn to old blog posts to help drive more traffic. It seems like once a blog post is published, tweeted and “liked” on Facebook, it’s forgotten – forever to be buried in the archives and never heard from again.
This is such an enormous waste of an investment that it makes me want to pull my hair out and violently shake our clients. You pay money for your content – even if it’s created by internal staff, it still takes time and expertise. So make use of your old blogs. Don’t waste that investment!
How to Stop Wasting Valuable Content
The next time you find yourself with a spare half hour to work on your company blog, go through this quick process to get more traction out of your old posts.
1. Sort. Sort through your analytics to find the top 10 or 20 most popular blog posts on your website. Organize them (I like to use a spreadsheet like this one) in a list with headings for the blog title, permalink, blog topic, and keywords targeted.
2. Identify topics. Start with the first blog post and ask yourself this question: If I had to sum up this blog topic in 3 to 4 words, what would it be? Use that as a starting point for your keyword research. For instance, this blog post is about “optimizing old blog posts.” On your spreadsheet under the “blog topic” column, type the corresponding word or phase.
3. Research keywords. Now, once you’ve got a concise blog topic pinpointed, it’s time to figure out what people searching on Google are typing in when they’re looking for the content that your blog post contains. Pull up Google’s Keyword Tool in your browser, pop in your blog topic description (those 3-4 words that described your post), and Google will generate your results.
The first result will be the exact phrase you typed in and the list of results afterwards are similar keywords/keyword phrases that other people are searching for. Your results will look something like this:
For instance, when I looked up “optimizing old blog posts,” guess what I found? The number of monthly searches is so negligible, Google doesn’t report it. That means that if I use that keyword phrase in my content and my title, it’s not going to do me any good, because no one is searching for it.
4. Analyze the data. There are two main numbers I look at for quick content optimization: Competition (Low/Medium/High) and Global Monthly Searches (even if your business is local, driving overall traffic is still good). I like to sort Google Keyword results by Competition, and then look for keywords that have low or medium competition and searches of at least 1K so that it will be easy to rank quickly for them.
Browse through the keywords on the left to look for phrases that match your blog topic well. While I was looking through my results, I noticed that “content optimization” and “seo for your blog” both summed up my post pretty well; they both have low search competition; and they each get 1,900 searches a month.
Quick Tip: To make sure you’ve chosen good keywords, pull up an incognito window in your browser and search for those keyword phrases. This will make sure that the phrases that you’re about to optimize for are garnering the types of visitors that you want. For example, imagine you’re a baker and you wrote a blog post about baking delicious pies and you see that there’s 5,000 searches a month for the phrases “making pies” that has little search competition. On the surface, that seems great. But maybe there’s a new pop artist in town and he just released a Top 40 hit named “Making Pies.” If you optimize your blog post for that phrase, you’re going to get a lot of angry pop music lovers visiting your blog who wanted to listed to music, not learn about pies.
Once you’re sure that your new keyword/s are perfect (low search competition, >1,000 monthly search queries), type those phrases into your spreadsheet under “keywords.”
5. Start optimizing. This is the part where we take our newer, better, more search-friendly keyword and put it into our blog post. Now, updating your actual blog content with optimized keywords is ideal (so long as you don’t stuff keywords and keep your content readable), but this post is all about quick optimization techniques, so we’re going to ignore the body content of your blog. What we are going to focus on are the: Title, Permalink, and Keyword Tags.
First things first, take the 1-2 updated keywords from your earlier research and update your keyword tags in your blog post. If there are a bunch of other keywords listed, get rid of those. As a rule of thumb, I never have more than three keywords for each blog – you want to keep it simple so that Google understands what your post is about.
6. Plug in keywords. The next step is to take the best keyword/keyword phrase out of your research (this will likely be the one that has the most searches) and work that into your title. For this post, I’m focusing on the term “optimize content.” My original title was “A Quick Tip for Optimizing Old Blog Posts,” but this doesn’t integrate either of my new targeted keywords for this post, so I changed it to: “How to Optimize Content on your Blog to get More Traffic.”
Adding your keyword into your blog title will help Google realize that your blog post is about optimizing content, and if it sees this phrase in your title, keyword tags, and body content, it’ll be able to easily pinpoint that phrase and rank your post for it.
7. Create a custom permalink. What’s a permalink? A permalink is the specific URL for a designated blog post. If you don’t specify a custom permalink, you’ll get a very generic looking one that’s generated by WordPress or Blogger that looks something like this: http://stuntandgimmicks.com/blog/ps325. An un-optimized permalink doesn’t give search crawlers any info on what your blog post is about. A custom permalink, however, tells them exactly what your post is about and what keyword or phrase it should rank for.
Finally, when you’re changing your permalink, remember to create a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL in order to make sure that earlier links that may have been sent out via social media or other sharing sites don’t end up going to a blank page.
And there you go – seven easy steps to optimize old content on the fly. Do YOU have any quick and dirty optimization tips that you want to share?
This post originally appeared on the author’s blog.
Lauren Fairbanks is Partner and Co-founder of Stunt & Gimmick’s, an NYC-based content marketing and lead generation firm. Before she started her own firm, she worked in publishing at AOL and founded a popular lifestyle website that she sold in 2011. She’s been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, Forbes, Crain’s New York, CNN, AOL, and the New York Enterprise Report.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
Young Entrepreneur Council
In major redesign, Google‘s popular tool will deliver maps that are tailored to a user’s search history.
This morning search advertising and technology giant Google appointed a new managing director for its Australia and New Zealand division. While Maile Carnegie is a very seasoned executive with a few decades at consumer goods company Proctor & Gamble (P&G), we’d have to question her fitness to provide vision for Google‘s local operations … given that the executive appears to have zero experience in either the technology or media industries, which is kind of where Google specialises.
A sign-up page for a new version of Google Maps for the desktop has briefly become available online, showing a plethora of new features and a new design
The page, unearthed by Droid Life, is no longer available, but it’s likely to show up again tomorrow during Google‘s I/O event
Among the features listed on the signup page were a new, smarter search, integration with Google Earth and Flight Search as well as a way to compare multiple modes of transportation
The mobile version of the app is not mentioned
A recent report said Google will soon launch an entirely new interface for the Maps desktop app. The changes mentioned in the report seem aligned with this latest leak — all that’s left to do is wait until the new Maps becomes officially available Read more…
Pinterest works best on the web, with its big images and pinning from other browser tabs. But mobile is the future and Pinterest needs to play catch up there. Today Pinterest mobile added search suggestions to make single screen pinning easier. Its iOS and Android apps also got basics like notifications and mentions. Pinterest will need to add value, not just port its website, to win on mobile.
The problem with Pinterest on mobile is that it’s fundamentally a collection site — and you need other places to collect from. That’s a breeze on the web with its bookmarklet for pinning, or quick multi-window browsing so you can add things onto your boards. But on mobile with just one screen visible, finding content can be a chore.
Pinterest is trying to fix this with a few updates today. First, search suggestions, also known as a typeahead, can quickly find you people or things when you just type a few letters. Instead of having to dream up what kind of apple-based recipes other users are pinning, typing “apple” now reveals a drop down of suggestions like apple pie (expected) and apple cider vinegar (now that’s discovery).
Pinterest’s iOS app, but not Android, also now allows you to type in URLs within the app by hitting the ‘+’ sign at the bottom of the screen to bring in outside content. However, most people don’t know the exact URLs they’d want to pin from, so this may work better with cut and paste. Still, you’re going to have to jump back and forth between your mobile browser and Pinterest to make it work. That’s a lot more friction than on the web.
Finally, both of Pinterest’s core apps got some fundamentals added. Somehow there were not in-app or push notifications before, but now there’s both. You can also now tag people with @mentions from mobile, which feeds in nicely with the new notifications.
Pinterest is one company I’m honestly a little worried about when it comes to mobile. I feel like the nesting instinct is very natural on the desktop that you’re often using from home, your real nest. On mobile the desire to collect and arrange seems both less natural and inherently more difficult with the small screen. Pinterest might flourish on the tablet, but it will have to work hard to make its phone experience as alluring.
It needs to add unique value on the platform that takes advantage of mobile. Pin suggestions based on nearby businesses and board suggestions based on nearby users. Instant uploads from your camera roll to a private board might be a bit aggressive, but some way to more easily pin photos you’ve taken on the go would be great. Whatever is does, it needs to go beyond cramming its website into a smaller box.
TechCrunch » Social