Translating Web Apps into Urdu

Urdu language was born out of several languages. Mainly it borrowed its vocabulary from Sanskrit, Hindi, Persian (Farsi), Turkish, and Arabic. Urdu is extremely flexible in adapting words from other languages. For example, currently in every day Urdu language, as well as Urdu literature, words from Western languages are commonly used. Words like editor, president, university, college, school, and many others, are commonly used and understood.

The reason that why several literary giants, newspapers, and educational experts, prefer to use English words instead of finding their Urdu replacement, is simply because Urdu is not designed to invent or make words up as you go. When you are finding a translation for a word like University in Urdu, you are basically looking for a word from any of the Urdu’s parent languages such as (Arabic, Turkish, Sanskrit, Farsi, etc). These other words are not as commonly spoken as the original English language word, hence trying to translate these words into Urdu is basically an attempt to make Urdu a much less practical language.

Urdu is a very practical language, mainly because it can swiftly and smoothly accommodate new words. Let’s take a look at some examples. I was looking at how some people are trying to translate Facebook. There was this phrase:

{name1} shared {=a link}.

Some suggested translations for this sentence were:


‎{name1}‎‏ نے ‎{=a link}‎‏ بانٹا۔

‎{name1}‎‏ نے ‎{=a link}‎‏ کی تشہیر کی۔

‎{name1}‎‏ نے ‎{=a link}‎‏ کا اشثراک کیا۔

‎{name1}‎‏ نے ‎{=a link}‎‏ مشترک کیا ہے۔

For any Urdu speaking Facebook user, these words make no sense. Simply because Sharing is a web feature, Facebook users associate this with a feature provided by the Facebook. This feature is common in thousands of other web applications, and every Urdu speaking internet user knows what sharing means. Insisting on translating this into a Urdu word would cause confusion.

Since there is no organization or authority that can validate and recommend people to stick to one word for a web feature, and since translating web applications has been democratized, translators are going to submit multiple translations for each sentence.

Now let’s take a look at who is actually translating web apps into Urdu? These are usually people who self-driven and motivated to keep their language alive on the web. Many of these users think that translating means they should literally translate everything, even if translating means rendering the web app practically useless for the average user. This means that there is a much greater chance of Facebook starting using sentence:

‎{name1}‎‏ نے ‎{=a link}‎‏ بانٹا۔

For an average Urdu speaking Facebook user, this sentence is not only incorrect, but it is also confusing, and they would find it hard to guess whether it is the same sharing feature or something else. Same goes for the rest of the translations. The most accurate, user-friendly, and ideal translation for the sentence would be:

‎{name1}‎‏ نے ‎{=a link}‎‏ شیئر کیا

In this sentence the word Share is written as it is in Urdu alphabet, making it easy to understand, user-friendly and practical.

I believe that there is no need to reinvent words that are part of the lives of Urdu speaking internet users. Words such as copy, paste, submit, email, web page, and many others are part of our every day lives where we use them in our every day Urdu fluently and with in context. These words are understood, recognized and are already part of the vocabulary. I feel that our fear of importing too much Western words into language are baseless and unrealistic. Trying to combat this battle will drive people away from using Urdu on their web applications.

If we just want to translate web applications that no one will use, then sure go a head, use alien-sounding, Persian and Arabic words for common tasks, functions and features. But if we want people to use web applications in Urdu then we must make translations smooth, fun, easy and practical.

How to Add Author Profile Picture in Google Search Results

Google has recently announced implementation of authorship markup in search results. This change allows authors to take credit for their content. It also shows author pictures in the search results. These author profile pictures are generated from the rel=”author” tag in a hyperlink that points to the author’s Google Profile.

How this is going to benefit you?

Right now implementing this will help Google display your profile picture on the content you have written. This will give credibility to your blog, increase the user trust, and will also help Google improve their search.

  • Increases credibility of you as an expert in your niche.
  • Increased trust level.
  • Better page rankings.

As I mentioned earlier in my blog posts (here and here) that Google is now paying more attention to gauge a page’s importance using social matrices. The author tag enables search engines to find out more about an author and their credibility in a respective field. This tag will enable search engines to understand:

  • Who you are.
  • What are the topics you write about.
  • Who likes your posts.
  • How people interact with your content.
  • People who interact with your content, what do they like.

How to add:

Step 1. Basically rel=author is just a hyperlink, which links to author’s Google profile. Like this:

<a href="https://plus.google.com/108579361730459688657" rel="author">Noumaan Yaqoob</a>

 

If you own a single author blog you can put this link anywhere on your pages.

Step 2. It was that easy to give yourself credit for a good blog post. There are people who might use this feature for writing poor content and give credit to other people. To avoid this, The Google profile page should also have a link back to your main domain.

There is more on how you can add this markup to your blogs with multiple authors. Check out this post on how to add it to a WordPress blog for multiple authors. Also check out this article on Webmaster Tools help pages.

Also watch this Webmaster’s Tools video in which Google’s Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson discuss authorship markup.

Google +1 Recommendations

Are Social Recommendations Going to Kill SEO Industry?

I recently had an interesting discussion with a friend about Google+, +1 button, Social Web and the future of SEO. He supports the idea of allowing search engines to learn more about us. He thinks that it will destroy the low quality search engine optimizers who basically just fool small businesses by providing link building and directory submission services. I do agree that many SEO services providers are basically just spammers, filling the web with the junk. But, as a blogger, I also understand the importance of SEO. I think that there are many people offering high quality services and tools to help small businesses get the most out of the search engines.

I personally don’t know enough about SEO to call my self an expert on the topic. However, blogging has taught me a few things and those few things worked really well for me until the Panda Update.

[For Non-IT folks: Social Web, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Panda Update Explained.]

Panda affected one of my blogs terribly and the number of pageviews per day dropped by more than 50%. Google’s algorithms believed that some of my pages are not that high quality.

Since Panda Update, I have become very interested in how Google is determining the quality of a page. Google uses a very complex algorithm to determine how it is going to display search results for a query. To make results more relevant, Google uses information it collects about their users.

Recently Google has indicated that they will be using recommendations from a user’s social circle to enhance search results and offer more relevant content. Tha launch of +1, just days before the launch of Google+ signifies that Google is going to become a more socially powered platform.

Google +1 Recommendations

In my opinion Google’s social algorithms will (They have started this but in future it will become stronger) determine the quality of a page and it’s relevancy for results based on these social web factors:

  • Previous interactions of a user with a website in search results. For example, if you click Wikipedia pages more often in your search results than a page from Wikipedia becomes eligible candidate to be in your top10 results for any query.
  • If you have recommended content from that particular website on social platforms such as twitter and Google+ then it gains significance in your search results.
  • Your friends have recommended a page by +1, Google Buzz, or Twitter.
  • Your friends have shared a page on social platforms.
  • Friends of Friends have recommended something.

Not all friends and social contacts are considered equal. You are more likely to click on content shared or recommended by the people you interact with more often. Currently, Google shows social results at the end of the search result’s page with the explanation that someone from social circles has recommended this page. However, the results that are not marked are also some how influenced by social metrices.

social recommendations in search results

How it is generating the top results?

Google is not going to dump the technologies they have developed to display you the relevant results. Social elements will enhance search results but not totally overpower them. This means that your top results will be judged based on other quality matrices as well. Such as quality linkbacks, page load time, keywords matching the content, quality of content, originality and freshness of content, etc.

Now back to SEO, I don’t think that SEO industry is going to die, it will evolve itself and become more involved in getting recommendations from social platforms. Google’s own social platform Google+ is already getting a lot of attention from bloggers, search engine experts and marketers. Search Engine Optimization services providers will evolve into community builders. Most SEO services provider currently offer full fledged social web marketing services. However, the emphasis would be on building more interactive social communities around the content of a website. I think SEO industry is already heading in the right direction.

There are few things that I don’t understand yet. Like:

  • If this is how search results will get generated, doesn’t this mean that I will get to see only a few limited sites in my search results?
  • Wouldn’t it limit a user’s reach to high quality content from sources other than those that they are more likely to interact with?
  • How small content publishers and bloggers would be able to compete with large publishers with stronger brand images and huge social media interactions?

8 Cool Features I would Like to See in Google+

This is a list of a few features I would like to see in Google+. I will be suggesting them to Google+ team using the feedback form. Before doing that, I wanted to see what other people are thinking, how they are seeing Google Plus and what features they think will increase the importance of G+. Here is my list of some features, which I believe will make G+ more powerful for me.

1. Suggest Friends and Contacts:
Google+ should have a feature to suggest contacts and introduce people to each other. Right now, this can be done by using huddle, or simply tagging people in a status. But it would be awesome if it was clearer and easier.

2. Joining or Subscribing to a Circle
As Darren Rowse suggested, there should be a way for people to add themselves into one or many of the circles, offered to them by another Google Plus user. This way they can subscribe to updates addressed to that specific circle and wouldn’t be bothered by other things. This will also help people with thousands of followers to speak a selected audience.

3. Improved People Search
There should be search options to find people by age, location, interests, etc. Right now, it seems like the search bar on the top allows you to search for people by name. What if I wanted to find people who are in my city, and interested in poetry reading? Advanced search options would allow more people to connect to each other, increasing the overall network size and interactivity on their accounts and Google+.

4. Chat in One tab:
When I have my Google Plus stream opened in one tab and Gmail in other, I have two tabs showing chat in the sidebar. When someone initiates a chat, a window pops up in every G+ and Gmail tab. I think Google plus and Gmail should ask me where I want to chat, on G+, Gmail, both or none.

5. Who are The People in ‘Find and Invite’?
G+ team should explain to us how they display people they think we might want to add to our circles (Update: I later found out that Google+ does explain how it suggests people). It will help us understand, how we can appear in more people’s suggestions. It will also help us understand why we see so many people that have nothing in common with us. Youtube does a similar thing with suggested viewing feature. It describes that it is recommending a particular video because I watched a similar video, and it also tells which similar video I viewed.

6. Integrate Other Networks into Stream using APIs
We all know that the work is in progress to release an API for G+ which will allow developers to integrate apps into Google+. Currently Google is offering a mailing list where Developers can sign up to get notified whenever there are opportunities available for them. Hopefully with this API release, we will be able to see our Facebook, Twitter and other social networks right into our G+ stream.

7. WordPress Integration and Comments
Hopefully, with the API release, it will become possible to integrate Google plus into WordPress. Every comment I post on a Blogger or WordPress blog should appear on my stream with a link back to original post. This means that I will carry my discussions with me to my stream. It would be awesome if we could also receive notifications for new comments on that blog post. People should not only be able to +1 a blog post or page on a website but they should also be able to +1 a comment posted by someone anywhere on the web.

Google needs to provide tools that make a WordPress blog and commenting system get totally integrated. WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg recently talked about how he would like to see G+ integrated into WordPress. WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS used by millions of people. It will provide a great boost to Google+ and in return G+ will provide traffic to the websites running a G+ integrated WordPress website..

8. Allow users to suggest improvements in Find and Invite
Find and Invite shows suggestions there should be a feature to allow users to remove a profile from the suggestions. There are lots of people in there that I don’t want to add. Removing them will improve Google’s algorithms and they would be able to understand more about what I like. Isn’t this the whole purpose of G+?

These were just the few features that came to my mind, I am sure more ideas will keep coming to the minds of all Google Plus users. Many of them have already suggested similar feature requests using the feedback form. The thing that I am curious to know is how we will be using Google Plus in the future. How it will help people make money, build networks, become influential. What are the features that would make Google plus more useful for everyone?

Google+ is not Facebook and Here is Why

During last few days I used Google+, a new social networking website launched by Google. Since the launch and trial invitations, everyone started comparing it with Facebook, many claimed that it is Google’s attempt to compete with Facebook. Funny illustrations popped across the web showing Google+ punching and slapping Facebook. For a day or two, it did feel like an alternate to Facebook, but after a while I started feeling that actually it is not. There are many things that are missing from Google+, it is not even an attempt to compete with Facebook, and it actually wants you to add as many people as possible, even if you don’t know them at all, you can add them to a circle.

  • What is wrong with Google+ ?
  • Why it is not a threat to Facebook as yet?
  • What Google is trying to do?

Google has tried to launch social web platforms but all these attempts did not succeed to capture any significant share of the social web. Google Buzz is integrated right into Gmail, but still it did not gain the popularity Google expected, and we all remember Orkut.

Google+ is in trial phase right now and not open for all yet. There might be many improvements to it before it becomes available to all. Right now, it has features similar to Facebook but not all Facebook features are there. For example, there are no ‘Pages’, or ‘Groups’ yet. Even though Google has the technology to add these features by integrating Google Sites and Google Groups. Google+ has chat similar to Gmail Chat and ‘Hangouts’, which allows you to video and voice conference with your friends and family. Sparks are search results for your favorite topics from across the web. Except ‘Hangouts’, there is nothing unique to Google+.

In the User Interface area we see typical Google simplicity with some intuitive new ways to do things on Google+. Such as drag and drop your contacts in circles, and lots of cool nifty things that make it really interesting. However, there are a few things that make this UI a little difficult to understand for non-tech average Joes.

  • Google should use improved typography. Can’t understand their obsession with large fonts and fear of using small but readable fonts.
  • Too much empty space wasted in padding, margin and white spaces. This does make Google+ look roomier but it also hides lots of content below the scroll. People don’t like scrolling much. They want to see their updates right away when they sign in.
  • The sidebars can be more compact.
  • Thumbnails for shared photos and images are too large.
  • Stream’s status box should be more inviting and a little wider.

Why would people want to sign up for Google Plus?

Google is the search giant, they have tools and resources to improve Google+ into something you can’t live without. For example they have already integrated social search. When you search for a keyword that has a result which one of the people in your social connections shared, Google would highlight this result. Google’s +1 works as Facebook’s ‘Like’, except that it shows your “like” or +1 as a count to the world and as a recommendation to people in your social circle. And by social circle I don’t mean people in your Google+ circles. Your social connections are people who are connected to you on any websites you have mentioned in your Google profile.

If you mentioned your facebook ID, Twitter account, or LinkedIn profile then Google will attempt to follow your social connections from there. It not only tracks your direct contacts from Gmail Contacts, facebook, Twitter and many other websites. It will also consider other people connected to you if you have a mutual friend with them. This increases your social pool significantly, mine has nearly 2000 people. You can see your social connections by visiting your Google Dashboard.

Google+ will help Google create a social platform one what is already its most strong selling point, Google Search. With Google+, +1 buttons, and many other products, Google will try to guess:

  • The result you are most likely to click.
  • What your friends like.
  • What common interests you and your friends and their friends have.
  • How often you search for content related to your interests
  • And so much more.

Google will use this information to improve their products as mentioned in their TOS, and one of their products is Google Ads.

Google is not trying to beat Facebook on the social web, not yet at least. They are trying to gather a wealth of information which will generate billions of dollars in revenue. In fact, I am hoping that Google will allow Google+ users to directly post from Facebook, Twitter or any other website to their Google+ Stream. Google has already integrated +1 in search results and they are marketing it furiously across the web, asking webmasters to implement it on their websites along with other social sharing buttons.

What all this means?

  • For people concerned about privacy, Google knows your social connections, they know your friends, family and acquaintances, bosses, colleagues and how often you communicate with each one of them.
  • For other people, your information will be used to enhance search results, and you will be surprised how much relevant these results are going to be in near future.
  • For businesses, you will have to hire a lot of people to make sure your business is connected to a lot of people. More time and money needs to be invested on social marketing. Forget your page rank, count how many people you have connected on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, and how often they +1, click, like, comment or react to the content posted by your business.
  • For Search Engine Optimizers, forget link building and build links to people, that’s new direction for the web.

Review: Kitabain.com Online Books Marketplace

Day before yesterday I ordered two books from Kitabain.com. I am so happy to have found such an easy way to buy books that I decided to write a review of the website and the service.

Kitabain.com is a marketplace for used and new books. Any one can signup for free to sell or buy books. As far as I know this is the first every Pakistani website to offer this service. For people in Karachi the shipping rates are RS. 50 per order of less than 6 books. If you buy six or more books then shipping is free.

Web interface for the website is very simple. However, browsing the books and advanced search features are not very good. For example in advanced search you can not search by author name or ISBN number. Categories are also not very well organized. For example there could be lots of sub categories for Fiction like mysteries, romance, thriller, historical, etc.

The search feature is good, I searched for Stephen King and found many relevant results. But I think it would be better if I was able to search for the books by particular authors. This would save me a lot of time.

I placed the order for two Stephen King books, and received a call the same day. I was asked to confirm my order and was told that my books will arrive day after tomorrow. I was a little concerned about the condition of the books. But when the delivery arrived the books were as good as new. However I was a little disappointed that they were not wrapped or even had a shopping bag. I think that Kitabain.com should get their own paper bags or plastic bags this will look more professional.

Overall I am impressed with the service, the collection of books, lower prices, and easy on-delivery payment option.

FriendFeed – A review

Many of my friends have blogs and accounts on countless social networking websites. Some of my friends and family share their photos and videos on Flickr and Youtube. Some of them heavily use Twitter, facebook, blogs, Instant Messaging, and emails. Staying in touch with all this information is becoming complicated each day. Not just for me, I have heard other people also complaining about it. You might be one of us too specially if you are like me a bit lazy and one of those people who are not constantly trying so called cool new social networks.

We need a solution that could help us get all the information from our friends and family in an easy and quick manner.

Some smart developers realized our need, accepted the challenge and took it seriously to develop a new web application called “friendfeed“.

friendfeed-logo-icon

FriendFeed describes itself as:

Sign up for FriendFeed, invite some friends, and get a customized feed made up of the content that your friends shared — from news articles to family photos to interesting links and videos. FriendFeed automatically imports shared stuff from sites across the web, so if your friend favorites a video on YouTube, you get a link and a thumbnail of the video in your feed. And if your friend likes a news story on Digg, you get a link in your feed. FriendFeed makes all the sites you already use a little more social.”

In easy words FriendFeed is a feed of all the online activities of your friends that are accessible via RSS feed. Like their facebook, twitter, youtube, blogging, digg, stumbleupon and other activities. Check the list of supported sites.

FriendFeed is supercool, however there is a little difficulty. In order to get all the updates from your friends it is important that your friends have already made an account on FriendFeed and has shared their account information for the websites that they use.

You can add an imaginary friend which means you can add a friend’s RSS feed but adding all those feeds manually for each friend is difficult and not an ideal situation. So it would be better if you just invite your friends to give FriendFeed a try. I have invited my friends already and I am hoping that since they are so addicted to social media they are definitely going to love friendfeed.

People all over the web are talking about FriendFeed and many of them are comparing FriendFeed with Twitter. I think this is a totally wrong comparison. While Twitter is a microblogging site that helps you publish tiny bits of content. FriendFeed is more like a feed aggregator. That merges RSS feeds for a person and publishes a unified feed for that person and then helps sharing this feed with other people. I think FriendFeed is cool and I feel that I will be using it a lot in future. Please feel free to join me on friendfeed.