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The truth about SEO and biased machines: top stories you have to read

Machines are objective. SEO is the only way to hit the first page of Google. Stores can’t creep your personal browsing habits. Perhaps it’s not so clear cut, as the article’s included in this week’s top tech stories round up point out.

The inconvenient truth about SEO

Whether or not you agree with the main sentiment of the author, this post makes for interesting reading. Basically, the argument is that SEO is essentially gaming the system — and, eventually, all that work is going to be undone as Google (and the other search engines) continues to introduce more changes to punish the sites which are artificially inflating their rankings. The only way to ensure your website has a nice place at the top of the results page is to create great, thought-provoking, original content that people will want to link to and share — which meets Google’s aim to help people find interesting articles.

They know what you’re shopping for

Ah, advertising. In case you were unaware, nothing is truly free — you either pay for a service yourself, or you have to put up with ads that the bill for you… and that want to know more about you so they can target you more effectively. From the companies which track potential customers’ web browsing habits to the social media buttons that know you’re there even though you haven’t clicked ‘like’, this article explains how advertisers are gathering information which they say will help improve their services, but many are using practices that the average user sees as an invasion of privacy and a potential security risk.

Inside Buzzfeed: the story of how Jonah Peretti built the web’s most beloved new media brand

Whether you despise the fluff on Buzzfeed or regularly visit to stock up on random memes and occasional serious long-form reports, it’s definitely becoming an interesting example of a website that is testing out new ways to profit from and spread stories online. The site’s co-founder, Jonah Peretti, one of the brains behind the Huffington Post, shares some insight into the workings of the company and how it plays with viral content. He explains why it favours social sharing over SEO and how it has survived without the banner advertising that has been the main source of revenue for traditional news sites.

Understanding bias in computational news media

You’d think that something computer-generated would be completely impartial… but you’d be wrong. Algorithms have just added another level to the debate surrounding objectivity and bias in reporting, as they are prejudiced towards content that is new and attracting the most attention. As the web becomes noisier, filtering and prioritising the stories you really want to see is becoming more important. This article by the Nieman Journalism Lab examines how bias can creep into everything from Google News to summarising apps and social media curating services.

Author | Lauren Granger

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping tech sites and Twitter than she was in picking up one of those printed things called 'newspapers', she decided to specialise in... More

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