Deal: Misfit Vapor gets a $60 price cut on Amazon to $140

The Misfit Vapor finally went on sale in late October, after the Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch was supposed to launch sometime in the late summer of 2017. The price for the smartwatch was $199.99, but now Amazon has cut the price down for the Vapor to just $139.59. That’s over $60 off for a product that first launched less than two months ago.

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That may be a clue that sales of the Vapor may not be doing as well as Misfit thought, or it could just be a holiday sales promotion. In any case, getting such a big price cut for this smartwatch makes it more attractive. It has a 1.39-inch AMOLED display, a Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, 4 GB of internal storage, a 44 mm satin-finished stainless steel casing, and a touch-enabled bezel that lets you access the UI without using the touchscreen.

Unfortunately, the Misfit Vapor does not have a dedicated GPS chip inside, which was something the company said would originally be included with this smartwatch. It also lacks an NFC chip, so you can’t use it to buy stuff in stores via Android Pay without a phone. However, it does have an optical heart rate sensor and a water resistance rating of up to 50 meters, which means you can use it while swimming. Android Wear 2.0 support means you also get access to Google Assistant, along with customizable watch faces and access to all the new Google Fit features.

Get it at Amazon

Surviving Holiday Heart Attack Season: A Cardiologist’s Advice

More people die from heart disease between December 25 and January 7 than at any other time of the year.

It’s almost that time of year: holiday heart attack season. More people die from heart disease between December 25 and January 7 than at any other time of the year. What’s the answer? Healthier food. As a cardiologist, I’m calling on hospitals to lead by example. Historically, some hospitals have been known for serving their heart attack patients breakfasts of bacon and eggs, conveying a message to patients and families that food does not matter.

That is all about to change. Earlier this year, the American College of Cardiology released Heart-Healthy Food Recommendations for Hospitals, which says that “hospitalization can be a ‘teachable moment’ for patients who are ready to embrace nutrition as part of the healing process.” The ACC recommends having plant-based main dishes available at every meal. It also says that processed meats—bacon, sausage, ham, hot dogs, and deli meats—should be off the menu entirely. The American Medical Association followed suit, calling for similar improvements in hospital food offerings: out with the bacon and sausage, in with the vegan choices.

The plan could save hundreds of thousands of lives a year. A study published this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked not eating enough fruits, vegetables and grains to more than 150,000 cardiovascular deaths a year and too much processed meat to 60,000 deaths.

Are you serious? you might be asking. Will hospitals really serve vegan (plant-based) meals, and will patients really eat them (and like them)? The answer is absolutely yes. A generation ago, hospitals banned cigarettes, and the grumbling from smokers ended almost immediately. It was a clear-cut message about what is healthy and what is not. It’s time to do the same with unhealthy foods.   

The ACC and AMA recommendations also have benefits beyond heart health. A recent report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research found that eating three servings of whole grains per day reduces colorectal cancer risk by 17 percent, while eating just 50 grams of processed meat per day—about the size of a hot dog or a couple of slices of bacon—increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. 

Other organizations, like the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, are working in hospitals to make healthful hospital food a reality. This year, the Physicians Committee successfully encouraged the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital to remove hot dogs from patient menus, and convinced others to kick out fast food restaurants. The doctors’ group also produced a Heart-Healthy Foods for Hospitals booklet, which includes delicious plant-based recipes: Apple Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake, Cheezy Potato and Veggie Breakfast Casserole, and Mexican Lasagna. It also makes hospital managers’ lives easier by providing list of contractors that provide heart-healthy foods, tips from professionals for how to successfully implement the plan, handouts for patients and cafeteria signage.

In other words, the change could not be easier. Let’s resolve to eat healthfully, and let’s start with our hospitals. While some hospitals are starting to do this, let’s see if we can get them all to take this on in a whole-hearted approach. Instead of being the riskiest time of year, let’s work together to make the holiday season the healthiest.

 

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Open beta weekend for Total War: Arena

If you’re not in the closed beta for Total War: Arena, but want to try out the game anyway, you can do so this weekend. They couldn’t move into complete open beta yet, because the game still needs some balancing, and after open beta starts there will be no more wipes. So they did an “open weekend during closed beta” event, where everybody with a Wargaming.net account can try the game for the weekend.

Total War: Arena is a lot of fun, but they still haven’t completely nailed it. Strategic play isn’t rewarded enough, while mindlessly shooting into the fray and causing friendly fire is rewarded too much. However ranged units are so damn inaccurate that if you punish friendly fire too much, they basically become unplayable. So there is still some work to be done on that front, and the devs admitted as much.

Reimagining the Tax Code, Getting There with Grassroots Activism

Tax policy, which can be deadly dull, hasn’t inspired much enthusiasm for activist campaigns—until now. Advocates could leverage this energy to push for a progressive tax code.

The House and the Senate have reached an agreement on the final GOP tax bill and plan to vote on it sometime next week. However, there’s still aggressive mobilization against the legislation, fueled by progressive organizations like the Not One Penny and Stop the #GOPTaxScam coalitions; Indivisible; and Americans for Tax Fairness. These groups are working hard to disrupt a tax agenda that overwhelmingly favors the wealthy, even though in all likelihood the bill will pass. Tim Hogan, spokesperson for the Not One Penny campaign, says that regardless the outcome of the bill, this mobilization is a victory “in the court of public opinion.”

Indeed, Americans are strongly against the bill: a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that nearly half of Americans who are aware of the legislation oppose it. And tax policy activism—a rarely- seen phenomenon—has played a role in raising awareness. This surge in activism could lay the foundation for a popular movement, not just reject the GOP’s giveaway to the rich, but to work toward a new, more equitable tax code.

In September, before the Republican tax proposals were released, Prosperity Now and PolicyLink, two economic justice organizations, released a report entitled “Making the Connection: Bringing Tax Wonks and Grassroots Activists Together to End Inequality.” The U.S. tax code, the report found, is an extremely “powerful lever … to drive inequality.” But as much as the tax code expands the divide between rich and poor, the report argues, that there is also serious potential for the tax code, reimagined, to bridge it.

And, as the report makes clear, that’s where activists could come in.

Not One Penny, spawned from April’s Tax March and officially launched in August, is a coalition of almost 50 organizations, demanding “Not one penny in tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations.” While the Tax March largely brought people out to protest Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, the organizers wanted to bring attention to progressive tax policies, too. Following the initial action, Not One Penny shifted its focus. This summer, with a Republican tax proposal looming on the horizon, the group began training activists in anti-tax policy organizing.

Months later, after the release of the Trump tax plan and the eventual passage of the House and Senate proposals, demonstrations are taking place across the country to protest these trickle-down economics-oriented plans. Recently, five protestors were arrested in Maine after conducting a sit-in in Republican Senator Susan Collins’s office; Collins is a potential “no” vote when the conference bill comes back to the Senate. And in the spirit of the holiday season, New Jersey activists have confronted their Republican representatives with tax-themed Christmas carols.

As the Senate debated their tax bill, groups opposing the legislation set up a “People’s Filibuster” to protest the GOP proposal. For over 30 hours and throughout the night, different organizations “sponsored” hours, inviting activists and advocates to tell their stories. The speakers warned about the damaging effects of the House and Senate proposals on specific sectors like health care and the environment, and on certain groups such as graduate students, people with disabilities, and young families.

The “Making the Connection” report suggests that these types of protests could be leveraged to advocate for fairer tax policies, as such tactics have not frequently been utilized in tax policy advocacy. The report found that while almost 60 percent of the activists it polled had recently attended a rally or protest on an issue of public concern, just 5 percent had recently attended a rally or protest related to tax policy.

The report’s authors further explain that such low mobilization in regard to tax activism could be attributed to tax policy’s “messaging problem,” as advocates and the general public commonly think of tax policy as “complex, unapproachable, and downright boring.” Major barriers to effective progressive tax advocacy include a “knowledge deficit” concerning taxes, and a lack of a personal connection to tax policy.

But not only does the tax code work to raise revenue for the government (which everyone knows about), it also helps American households build wealth (which fewer people realize). That may be because, in our current tax code, most tax benefits are funneled toward the wealthy. According to the report, the top 1 percent of households received more federal dollars than the bottom 80 percent. The mortgage interest deduction and property tax deduction? The government spends almost double on those credits for wealthier households than it does on Section 8 housing vouchers or Homeless Assistance Grants.

This preference for the wealthy is hard to detect, since programs like the mortgage-interest deduction are hidden inside the tax code, helping create a two-tier welfare system, where means-tested welfare programs for the poor are visible and known, but welfare programs for the wealthy, like deductions for homeownership, education, and retirement, help the rich build wealth but exist as “tax credits,” not “welfare.” The rich are lauded for taking advantage of the tax system (think of Trump saying that not paying taxes “makes me smart”), but means-tested welfare recipients are seen as moochers.

In other words, our tax code—even before the GOP makes it incalculably worse—exacerbates the nation’s vast economic inequality, in which the richest 1 percent of households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth. The tax code also contributes to the racial wealth gap, where the median white family owns 12 times the wealth of the median black family.

But, it also means that the tax code could also be a major force in reducing economic inequality. To right the imbalance and “shift the benefits distributed through the tax code to working families,” the “Making the Connection” report lays out concrete steps that advocacy organizations can take to make tax policy accessible to community organizers and grassroots activists.  

This support is necessary, says Jeremie Greer, Prosperity Now’s vice president of policy and research and a coauthor of the report, “because the personal connection to [tax policy] is underneath the tax code.” Greer says that “when [people] think about taxes, they think about the annual exercise of doing their taxes,” instead of associating the tax code with programs that help them.

The tax code contains housing credits, credits for low-income working families like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. The federal government uses that revenue to help pay for programs many communities rely on. One of the report’s survey respondents said that people often don’t realize that the EITC was the reason they received a tax refund. Another said that “many people don’t understand the connection between the taxes they pay and the roads they drive on or the schools their children attend.”

Other assistance programs outside the tax code are “very straightforward,” Greer says. Food stamps are for nutrition assistance. Housing vouchers help people with their housing. And the mortgage-interest deduction “is a wonky … and governmental way of talking about something,” he says. When talking to advocacy groups, Greer simply calls it what it is: a housing subsidy, which is one way to make tax policy clearer while helping people recognize how the tax code affects them personally.

Advocacy groups have been doing an excellent job of making the consequences of the Republican tax proposals both clear and personal. Lisa Beaudoin, executive director of ABLE New Hampshire, a disability rights organization, traveled to Washington for a recent Capitol Hill tax policy protest. She says, “Helping people understand the direct implications [that this tax bill has] in their lives … gives people something to hold onto and to fight for.”

The elimination of the individual mandate would threaten health care for millions of mostly low-income people. Multiple provisions, including the elimination of the medical expense deduction, would disproportionately hurt people with disabilities. And the reduction of the corporate tax rate is widely seen as a giveaway to wealthy Republican donors (as at least one Republican representative acknowledged).  

Anti-tax bill activism and the media coverage of the GOP bills have made an impact: Only 31 percent of Americans support the tax plan. But when the battle over the Republicans’ tax catastrophe is done, what will tax activists do then? It may be easier to advocate against polices that would be detrimental to low- and middle-income families than to campaign for fairer taxes, especially since progressive members of Congress have not put forth an omnibus proposal of their own.

Economist Gerald Friedman recently made the case at AlterNet that, “progressives should resist the temptation to simply attack the GOP giveaway to the ultra-rich; instead, they should articulate their own tax plan, one that would fund needed services, promote stable growth, and compensate the unlucky, including the victims of globalization.”

Many of Friedman’s policy proposals are not new to policymakers on the left; but they have not been bundled together in an overall progressive rewrite of the tax code. They include taxing capital income (such as profits from investments) at the same rate as income from work, and mandating new penalties on income stashed in offshore tax havens. Friedman also recommends strengthening the penalties on corporations that don’t provide benefits like health insurance and instituting a tax on carbon emissions.

The report’s policy proposals center on strengthening policies that already work, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and housing policy. The EITC lifts millions of families out of poverty, but really only works well for custodial parents. Greer says that people without children, including younger workers and the elderly, should be able to benefit too.

One such bill introduced by two progressive Democrats, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and California Representative Ro Khanna, would greatly expand the EITC along Prosperity Now’s lines. The Brown-Khanna plan increases the value of the credit for working families and gives childless workers greater access to the benefit. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that this proposal would lift the incomes of 47 million households.

By introducing such a congressional bill now, when the Republican majorities in each house have no intention of giving it a hearing, of course, is to lay the groundwork for a more progressive tax code if and when the Democrats return to power.

Another such proposal, Greer points out, would be to create a tax credit that benefits renters as well as homeowners. Support for families that rent could help move them into homeownership—a transformation that would be further incentivized if Congress permanently established a program like the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, which temporarily came about during the Great Recession.  

Progressive leaders can’t simply say “no” to the Republicans’ plan to alter the tax code, because the status quo isn’t ideal either. Instead, a new, progressive tax code could help eliminate income inequality, make the wealthy pay their fair share, and finally give low- and middle-income families the resources they need to lead lives that are economically secure. If Democrats can retake power and activists get the support they need to transform public tax discussions, the party could be prompted to adopt new policies (which would require reforming campaign finance to curtail the Democrats reliance on big money) to make a new tax code a reality.

 

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How much are readers worth?

I received a mail from an MMO website that it was for sale. I didn’t even know that there were auction sites for websites. Probably because I never considered my site as a business. I feel honored that people come to my site to read my thoughts. The idea was never to attract a maximum number of readers and then somehow monetize them. (And if I had wanted to do that I should have cashed out a decade ago, when this was still a popular blog.)

The site on sale boasts 30,000 YouTube subscribers, 9,000 Facebook fans, and 4,000 Twitter followers. And you can “buy” all these fans for $1,000 or best offer. That suggests that one fan is worth between 20 and 30 cents. However the site hasn’t had much content in the past few weeks, and those “fans” might be long gone, never to return. Especially if the new owner of the site creates little new content, or somehow changes the scope. So at best buying an existing website is a starting boost that gets the word out faster than if you created the same new content on a brand new site. Websites are dynamic and the real number of readers / subscribers / fans / followers depends very much on the current quality and quantity of content created.

Not only is buying a web site possibly a bad deal for the buyer. I would also consider it somewhat dishonest towards the fans. Imagine buying tickets to a concert and on going there finding out that the band you liked sold their name to another band, whose music you don’t like!

In summary, this blog is unlikely to be sold. I’m sticking to an earlier promise that I can’t be bought for less than $100,000. And as this site was never worth this much, you can be pretty confident that as long as there is somebody writing here, it will be me.

SailCraft Online

The game of Battleship as played with pen and grid paper is a hundred years old. 50 years ago Milton Bradley turned it into a board game with plastic pegs. There have been various computer versions, and even a rather horrible movie in 2012. Now I found a mobile game called SailCraft or SailCraft Online, which is basically Battleship on speed with all modern Pay2Win conveniences.

The original game is strictly symmetrical, except for the player moving first having a slight advantage. But in SailCraft the two players don’t have the exact same fleet, nor do they even have the same size of grid. Instead your grid size and your special abilities depend on the ships you choose for your fleet, limited by the level of your mothership. Ships come in common, uncommon, rare and legendary types, and the more of the same ship you find, the higher you can upgrade them in level. Each ship has an active and a passive ability, and stats for how many spaces it adds to your grid and how much “luck” you have going first. Active abilities allow you to do different things than just targeting space D4 and hoping you hit the battleship: For example you can fire a torpedo, send out a bomber, or use a telescope to scout some grid spaces. There are also counter-abilities like a torpedo-net or anti-aircraft guns.

Overall that makes the game a lot more dynamic to play than the original. But obviously the player who has collected more powerful ships has a distinctive advantage, having more powerful active abilities and a larger grid on which to hide his ships. Fortunately there is a matchmaking system that prevents you getting paired against the top players while you are still in the lower leagues. Which makes the game okay playable without paying any money, or just buying the occasional special offer. Having endless amount of time isn’t much help, as you can only grind a certain number of chests full of ships every day.

I don’t think there is any game left that didn’t get this sort of monetization make-over in a mobile version, frequently based around collectible items. I’ve even seen coin dozer games that work like that. SailCraft has the advantage that the underlying game of Battleship is a relatively intelligent one, and you can actually outthink your opponent to a certain degree. I just don’t think I’ll ever make it to the very top, because that appears to require some serious spending, which I am not willing to do.

Huawei confirms its phones will be sold by US carriers in 2018, starting with Mate 10

  • Huawei exec Richard Yu stated its phones will be “competitively priced” in the US market.
  • He added that Huawei does not expect to deal with security concerns in the US.
  • More information on the Huawei US carrier launch will be revealed at CES 2018.

After months of rumors and unconfirmed reports, the massive China-based phone company Huawei has finally and officially revealed that some of its handsets will be sold by US wireless carriers, starting sometime in 2018. The first such phone will be in its Mate 10 family of devices.

Editor’s Pick

The report comes from ABC News, quoting Richard Yu, the president of Huawei Technologies’ consumer business. He stated, “We will sell our flagship phone, our product, in the U.S. market through carriers next year.” The Mate 10, and its higher-end brother, the Mate 10 Pro, went on sale in China and other markets earlier this fall. Previous rumors claimed that the Mate 10 Pro would be sold by AT&T and Verizon in 2018. Yu did not state specifics on which carriers would sell its phones, but he did reveal that more information on those sales plans will be announced in early January during CES 2018.

While Huawei has sold phones under its own name and with its Honor brand in the US as unlocked devices online, breaking into the US carrier market could be huge for the company. Huawei is currently the number three seller of smartphones worldwide, trailing behind only Apple and Samsung. Yu stated today that the company’s phones, as sold by carriers, would be “competitively priced” in the US market.

He also added that Huawei does not expect its plans to be hit by security concerns by the US government. Some lawmakers and agencies have expressed concerns in the past that Chinese-based smartphone companies like Huawei could use those devices to spy on consumers. Today, Yu denied that would be the case, and suggested that those kinds of complaints were either politically motivated, or perhaps generated by its competitors.

Do You know who is “Google PanDa” ?

Content quality comes up more and more in the SEO context. Focusing on content quality was the winning underutilised SEO tactic in our expert roundup, and low value content is one of the major causes of manual and algorithmic Google penalties, notably Google Panda.

Google Panda is a series of on-going algorithm updates and data refreshes for the Google search engine that the company rolls out to help refine its search algorithm to improve the value of search query results for users.

Panda is a special “filter” designed to de-rank low quality content, and since 2016, it’s a part of the search engine’s core ranking algorithm. This means that Panda updates are now rolled out faster and more frequently than ever before, with more sites affected by the update.

But the question is, what is “content quality”, exactly? How do you improve it, grow your rankings, and keep Panda away? Here are the 6 essential steps to audit your content against poor quality and fix the issues you find. But before we start.

How does Panda work?

The Panda algorithm (named after Google engineer Navneet Panda) is designed to help Google improve the quality of search results by down-ranking low quality content. The basic principle here is that Google assigns a particular quality score to each website in its index (the score is assigned site-wide, not to separate pages.)
Initially, Panda functioned as a filter applied to a pack of search results that Google considered relevant to a search query. The Panda score was re-ordering them, pushing down the low-scorers, and giving a boost to the highest scored content.
Now, as Panda signals are “baked” into Google’s core ranking algorithm, they no longer re-order the results, but form them together with Google’s other ranking signals.

How does Panda identify high quality content?

Sure thing, there’s no “gut feeling” that helps Panda identify real quality. Panda is only an algorithm that checks your website for a number of factors that Google assumes are features of a high quality website. Then, by applying some math, it gives the site a specific quality score based on the results of this check.

The good news is, if your site’s quality score is based on a number of separate factors, you can influence those factors to improve the score.

The bad news is… Google won’t disclose the exact quality factors it takes into account to calculate the score. So the list of Panda-prone issues below is an educated guess, based on what Google has said on site quality, and what trackable factors it can use to determine it.

6 steps to a Panda-proof content audit

So, we know that Panda is used to assign your website a particular score depending on its “quality” — now let’s think of the factors that may be involved in the assessment.

Step 1. Crawl your website to get a full list of its pages

Unsurprisingly, the first step in completing a content audit is to… find all your content.

And since the Panda score is assigned site-wide, it is not enough to audit just the most important pages — you need to check your entire site to make sure no low quality content is dragging your overall website quality score down.

How to check

  • Launch WebSite Auditor and create a new project for your website.
  • Enter your website’s URL and hit Next.
  • Now, give WebSite Auditor a couple of minutes (depending on the size of your website) to collect and list your site’s pages.
  • When the crawl is complete, switch to the Pages dashboard to view all your pages.

The optimal way to deal with problematic content largely depends on the size of your site.

  • For a small website (>100 pages), removing low quality content is something you can not afford. Your key strategy is to improve on every problematic page, rather than delete it.
  • For a medium-sized site (100-1000 pages), removing some of the low quality content is possible. But your main focus will be on improving content at least for the most important pages.
  • For a large website (>1000 pages), improving all problematic pages is a huge piece of work, so your focus would be to “weed out” and remove the unnecessary and low quality content.

Step 2. Check for thin content

Imagine you have a category page with only a few lines of meaningless text and hundreds of links to products. This is what’s generally called thin content. Google’s been focusing on combating thin content a lot lately, with both Panda and Fred.

Search engines use content to determine the relevancy of a page to a query. And if you barely provide any information that’s accessible to them, how are they to understand what the page is about?

How to check

1.In your WebSite Auditor workspace, locate the Word count column. If it’s not there, right-click on the header of any column to enter the workspace editing mode, and add the Word count column to your active columns.

2.Back to your WebSite Auditor workspace, sort the pages by their content length by clicking on the newly added Word count column.

Panda advice

Surely, quality is not all about word count, since there are cases when you can deliver value in a few hundred words. That is why there’s no “minimum word count” threshold that triggers a low Panda quality score. More to that, sometimes pages with a little over a hundred words do exceptionally well on Google and even get included into its rich answers.

But having too many thin content pages will very likely get you into trouble — so on average, word count under 250 words is a good indicator to locate problematic spots across your site.

Step 3. Check for duplicated/very similar content

Another factor that could be a signal of your site’s low quality is duplicated or very similar content across multiple pages.

How to check

1.In WebSite Auditor, switch to the Site Audit dashboard and locate the Duplicate titles and Duplicate meta descriptions factors under the On-page section.

2.If any of these have an Error status, click on the problematic factor to get a full list of pages where duplication occurs.

Panda advice

Very often, bigger sites have to deal with a huge amount of pages that need to be filled with content. And many of them resort to an easy way to fill out those gaps — by writing boilerplate text that’s the same on each page except for a few variables. This is what Google considers automated, low quality content.

So, besides weeding out the word-by-word duplicated content, pay attention to the similar-looking pieces (say, your page titles are absolutely identical in structure and differ only in a product name) that may be a sign of content automation.

Step 4. Check for aggregated content/plagiarism

What’s also synonymous with quality in Google’s eyes is the “uniqueness” of your content. As Google wants your content to add value and not simply repeat what’s already been said, having non-unique content on your website (e.g. plagiarized content, product descriptions duplicated in feeds used on other channels like Amazon, shopping comparison sites and eBay) is an easy way to get under Google’s Panda filter.

How to check

If you suspect that some of your pages may be duplicated externally on other online resources, a good idea would be to check them with Copyscape.

Copyscape gives some of its data for free (for instance, comparing two specific URLs), but for a comprehensive check you may need a paid Premium account.

Panda advice

Even though Google tries to identify the original source of content, experiments show that in many cases they are unable to tell the stolen content from the original.

So, to make sure content thieves don’t hurt your Panda quality score, take appropriate action if you notice someone’s using your content on their sites — either by contacting the webmaster to ask them to remove the copied content, or using this content removal form from Google.

Step 5. Check for proper keyword usage

Keywords and keyword targeting are the most basic and longest-running concepts in SEO. And if you’ve been in the search industry for quite some time, you may remember the days when SEO meant just having the right words in your meta keywords tag.

Sure, these times have passed: search engines now try to detect and punish websites deliberately using too many keywords in their content.

However, whether Google will admit it or not, their algorithms are still built upon keywords. And having a keyword in your title tag does improve your page’s rankings, meaning you simply can’t afford not optimizing pages for keywords.

So, the only ticklish question here is, “How many is too many?” And one of the ways to check this is by looking at top ranking competitors (because the sites that rank in top 10 are the sites that pass Google quality test with an A+.)

How to check

1. In your WebSite Auditor project, go to the Content Analysis module and select the page you’d like to analyze.

2. Enter the keywords you’ve been optimising this page for and let the tool analyse your page along with your top ranking competitors.

3. What you will see now is the average keyword usage stats, both on your page and competitors’ pages. Ideally, all content-related SEO factors should have a green Correct status. For any factors that don’t, click on them one by one and pay particular attention to the Keyword stuffing column.

4. If you’d like to go the extra mile and see how well your page is optimised for all topically relevant keywords (and not just the ones you specified), switch to the TF-IDF dashboard. Here, you’ll see the terms and phrases that your top ranking competitors commonly use in their content. Pay attention to the Recommendation column to find out which terms you may want to add or use less of.

5. Now switch to the Content Editor module to add or remove extra keywords and see your on-page stats recalculate for you as you type.

6. When you’re done, hit the Save button to save the optimized HTML to your computer, ready for upload to your site.

Panda advice

Remember the Hummingbird algorithm update? The one with which Google learned to recognize the meaning behind a search query and give a common answer to a number of “different-in-keywords” but “same-in-meaning” queries?

This update changed the way SEOs optimize pages — now we no longer think “single keyword optimization“, but try to make our pages comprehensive and relevant for a whole group of synonyms and related terms. So, utilizing synonyms and related terms will help you improve your pages’ relevance, rankings and avoid the keyword stuffing issues.

Step 6. Check for user engagement metrics

Though Google generally states that user experience signals are not included into their search ranking algorithm, real-life experiments show the opposite. And one of the metrics SEOs suspect Google to use is bounce rates.

Think about it — as Google tries to bring users the best search experience, it obviously wants them to find what they were looking for with the first search result they click on. The best search experience is one that immediately lands the searcher on a page that has all the information they need, so that they don’t hit the back button to return to the SERP and look for other alternatives.

Bouncing off pages quickly to return to the SERP and look for other results is called pogo-sticking, and it can be easily measured in terms of bounce rates.

How to check

1. In WebSite Auditor’s Pages dashboard, go the Traffic coming to pages tab.

2. Select all pages in this view, and hit Update Pages. From the list of factors to update, only select Page Traffic.

Panda advice

The thing to remember when analyzing your bounce rates is that “it’s all about user intent”. If the searcher is looking for a very quick answer (think “What’s the capital of Australia?”) — then, quite obviously, they will leave the page as soon as they get the information they need.

If the high-bounce pages you see on your site are of this kind — giving users the immediate answers they were looking for — then they are not something to worry about. In other cases, try to improve your content and user experience to lower the bounce rates.

Other Things To Consider:

1. Check for user-generated content issues.
User-generated content and how it affects Panda has been a hot topic recently, and it has gotten to the point where many SEOs are recommending to get rid of all user-generated content, claiming that Google sees it as a signal of poor site quality.

This is far from true, because we’re still seeing lots of websites based purely on user-generated content (think Quora) that are doing well on Google.

However, user-generated spam — for instance, irrelevant comments on your blog or poorly moderated forum pages — can put your site into trouble.

So if your website features user-generated content, make sure improving your moderation strategy is a priority.

2. Check for grammar mistakes.
Bad spelling and grammar can both impede user experience and lower the trustworthiness of your content in Google’s eyes, so don’t tempt the fate by leaving obvious grammar errors on your pages. You may want to use a specialized grammar tool like Grammarly, or simply copy your pages’ content and paste it into a word processor. This should highlight the spelling mistakes so you can update the content.

3. Check for intrusive ads.
Sure thing, Panda is not the reason to stop using ads on your site. As long as your ads don’t get obtrusive, that is. Not only do excessive and disruptive ads (pop-ups, above-the-fold ads, and so on) annoy visitors, they apparently get on Google’s nerves just as well. Remember, this kind of advertisements can also trigger the Fred update — another reason to say no to intrusive ads.

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I finished The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild

Of course you can’t actually finish an open world game. Even if you used the game’s internal 100% completion counter, that still doesn’t cover all the content there is. So when I say I “finished” the game, I’m using the goals that I set for myself: Do all 120 shrines and kill the end boss to get to the closing credits. I did a lot of other content, but for example not all Korok seeds, of which there are far more than you actually need.

I still think Zelda – Breath of the Wild is one of the greatest games ever. I really liked all the discoveries, the open world without invisible walls made possible by the ability to climb vertical surfaces, and the numerous puzzles everywhere. I would have preferred a less action-centric combat system, but I appreciated that it wasn’t so hard that I would have needed more skills than I have in button-mashing. My biggest gripe with the game is that the sensor you get at some point to find shrines or resources you have previously photographed is terribly imprecise and unclear. Some of the shrines I could only find by looking them up on the internet, for example because they were in a cave half way up on a cliff face hidden behind a breakable wall, with no quest giving you any hint that they were there. But then you don’t actually need all 120 shrines to finish the game, so that is hardly a big problem.

My biggest mistake in this playthrough was keeping all my gems. Yes, there is a quest rather late in the game where you can sell gems for more money than usual. And yes, you can use some gems to upgrade some armor. But the gem-selling quest pays only like 10% extra, and you don’t really need to upgrade all your armor to maximum. I only upgraded the ancient armor to maximum, which both gives very good defense and even adds to offense when using ancient or guardian weapons. Most other armor sets need only to be upgraded twice to get the added set bonus. The armor class is mostly irrelevant for armor that you wear for other bonuses, e.g. for faster climbing or swimming. If I had sold all gems found earlier, I would have spent less hours farming materials which I only used to make elixirs which I then sold.

Ending the game produces an automatically saved game marked with a star, which has some added features like the completion counter I mentioned. Besides that some DLC content unlocks only after having done the four divine beasts, so I haven’t done that yet. However I’m not yet convinced that this DLC content is worth doing, as a lot of it appears to be somewhat grindy in nature, like the gauntlet of 45 levels of the Trial of the Sword. I think I will at least try some of that stuff before stopping to play. And I do consider that I might want to play the game again from the start after a while. However I won’t play in Master Mode, because I tried that and it just made combat incredibly hard, which isn’t what I am looking for.

I don’t regret having bought a Switch to play Zelda, but now it might be time to give some other Switch games a chance.

Nailing down the Switch

I am still happily playing Zelda – Breath of the Wild every day on my new Switch. However I had to buy some accessories to make that work smoothly. After trying it out once I abandoned the idea of playing with the Switch as a mobile device: I found the screen too small for Zelda and the 2-hour battery life not sufficient for my needs. So I was playing on my TV, with the two Joy-Con controllers attached to the supplied grip, which makes them feel very similar to a gamepad. However the supplied grip has no electric connection at all. Thus at the end of every day I had to unhook the two Joy-Cons and attach them to the main console for charging. Not very practical, and somewhat fiddly.

I considered two solutions and ended up buying both: A wired gamepad controller and a Joy-Con charging grip. The charging grip has the advantage that you can still play wirelessly, and just need to plug in the charging cable in the evening. The gamepad is rounder and slightly more comfortable to play with; however the one I bought doesn’t support motion control nor near-field communications.

In summary, I basically nailed down my Switch and turned it into a regular console, with no more need to remove the tablet from the stand. I can see the appeal of having a mobile console, but unless somebody invents better batteries, the Switch isn’t that for me.