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Will Google’s Next Update Be a Business-Breaker or Business as Usual?

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Major Google updates are like Marvel movies. They are often announced well in advance. And those announcements immediately spawn thousands of blogs and videos full of theories.

Google’s next big update arrives in May of 2021 (just ahead of summer blockbuster season) and they have given the world’s webmasters and marketers a full year to prepare themselves.

What’s going to happen? At the risk of oversimplifying the process, you can expect 3 things to happen after any major update:

  1. Some businesses will rise in the rankings
  2. Some businesses will plummet in the rankings
  3. Some will remain essentially where they are

Even the most experienced SEO professionals can’t definitively say who will fall into each category. However, the ones that have studied Google’s many updates over the last decade have predicted that we will likely see the following things.

Organic SEO Tactics Will Continue to Provide the Best Results

What are organic SEO tactics? Basically, it’s putting in the hard work to:

  •   Write quality content that human users find engaging, linkable, and sharable
  •   Use keywords strategically, without stuffing or spamming
  •   Earn quality links on respected site

If you have been doing these 3 things for the last few years, you’re probably ranking reasonably well right now, and you will probably continue to do so after the Core Web Vitals Update.

“When you put in the work and follow proven organic SEO tactics, you probably don’t need to be afraid of Google’s updates,” said Paul Teitelman, owner of PaulTeitelman.com.

“But, if you’ve been using shortcuts or out-dated SEO tactics, you should probably be very nervous.”

A New Need for Speed

A fast site has always been a crucial part of your SEO success. But the Core Web Vitals are going to take things to the next level.

Google’s announcement told webmasters to pay close attention to three new metrics:

  •   How long it takes for a page to completely load (Largest Contentful Paint)
  •   How long it takes for a page to become interactive (First Input Delay)
  •   How long it takes for a page’s elements to stop shifting while loading (Cumulative Layout Shift)

Fast performance will be more important than ever, with a more specific definition than ever.

It Will Remain a Mobile-First World

Google’s search algorithm started shifting towards mobile-first indexing a few years ago, meaning they would look at a domain’s mobile site before they looked at the desktop site when crawling.

The Core Web Vitals will use mobile-friendliness as a major ranking signal and continue to reward the sites that provide the best mobile experiences.

Of course, your mobile site needs to be fast, according to all of the metrics we covered in the previous section. But you also need to ensure that your mobile users aren’t running into things like cumbersome interstitial ads that prevent them from being able to use your site.

Is this update a big deal? Yes, and it will likely impact millions of websites. Will it be a big deal for your business? That probably depends on what you’ve been doing for the last few years.

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RCMP spied on Canadian nationalist committee over communist concerns – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada’s spy service closely monitored the burgeoning nationalist movement in the 1960s and ’70s, poring over pamphlets, collecting reports from confidential sources and warily watching for signs of Communist infiltration, once-secret records reveal.

The RCMP’s security branch, responsible for sniffing out subversives at the time, quietly tracked the rise of the Committee for an Independent Canada, seeing it as ripe for “exploitation or manipulation” by radicals.

The committee, which attracted numerous political and cultural luminaries, pushed for greater Canadian control of the industrial, media and foreign policy spheres in an era of profound American dominance.

The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to obtain the RCMP’s four-volume, 538-page dossier on the committee as well as a file on a forerunner organization from Library and Archives Canada. Some passages, though more than 60 years old, were withheld from release.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which assumed counter-subversion duties from the RCMP in 1984, transferred the records to the National Archives, given their historical significance.

The Mounties’ interest was piqued in the spring of 1960 when author Farley Mowat gathered neighbours at his home in Palgrave, Ont., to form what would soon become the Committee for Canadian Independence.

Mowat was instantly spurred into action upon reading journalist James Minifie’s book “Peacemaker or Powder-Monkey: Canada’s Role in a Revolutionary World,” rattled by its concerns about the erosion of Canadian sovereignty.

The fledgling committee advocated distancing Canada from western military alliances and reasserting the country’s control over its airspace and territorial waters.

In August 1960, as the RCMP opened a file on the committee, a sergeant surmised the Communist party “must certainly be joyous” at the development given it had long espoused similar ideas. However, the Mounties had uncovered no information to suggest the group was “Communist inspired.”

While Mowat’s effort faded from the public conversation, hand-wringing about Canadian independence persisted.

Early in 1970, Toronto Daily Star editor Peter C. Newman, former Liberal cabinet minister Walter Gordon and economist Abe Rotstein hatched plans for the Committee for an Independent Canada during a meeting at Toronto’s King Edward Hotel.

A statement of purpose published by the committee that September said it realized the benefits of Canada being neighbour to the most powerful nation in the world and rejected the idea of closing the taps of needed foreign capital.

“But our land won’t be our own much longer if we allow it to continue to be sold out to foreign owners. Not if we allow another culture to dominate our information media. Not if we allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of another country’s foreign policy.”

A month later an RCMP corporal in the security service’s Toronto detachment warned in a two-page memo the publicity the committee had garnered made it a “vulnerable target for subversive penetration.”

Gordon, a longtime economic nationalist, was honorary chairman of the committee, with publisher Jack McClelland and Claude Ryan, director of influential Montreal newspaper Le Devoir, serving as co-chairmen.

The politically non-partisan organization’s steering committee included dozens of notable members of the Canadian intelligentsia, including Mowat and fellow author Pierre Berton, publisher Mel Hurtig, poet Al Purdy, Chatelaine magazine editor Doris Anderson, lawyers Eddie Goodman and Judy LaMarsh (who had also been a Liberal cabinet minister), union activist and longtime NDP stalwart Eamon Park, and Flora MacDonald, shortly before she became a Progressive Conservative MP.

A source whose name is blacked out of a March 1971 memo provided the RCMP with committee literature including a letter from student co-ordinators Gus Abols and Michael Adams.

“The support of young Canadians is essential, because only through our united action will the government and the Canadian public generally realize the seriousness of our country’s situation and the extent of our commitment to the preservation of Canada,” the letter said.

Adams recalls being a graduate student the University of Toronto, strolling to class, when Goodman, whom he knew from Conservative political circles, pulled over his car and told the young man to jump in because “we’re going to start up something that I think you’d be interested in.”

Adams, who would go on to build Environics Research Group into a leading pollster, has fond memories of accompanying Gordon on a committee trip to London, Ont., to promote the nationalist cause to students.

As the “young guy” at committee meetings, Adams revelled in the impressive company.

“It was a wonderful group,” he said. “They were incredibly nurturing and helpful.”

For their part, however, RCMP security officers didn’t seem to know what to make of the committee.

An August 1971 memo to divisions from RCMP headquarters said the committee had taken a moderate, middle class-oriented stance rather than a radical approach. Elements of the New Left and the Communist party had shown interest in the committee, but the RCMP was not aware of “any significant degree of influence or penetration.”

Still, the Mounties would continue to eye the committee because its aims and programs “provide a potential for exploitation or manipulation by groups or individuals of a subversive nature.”

On the contrary, the committee was formed to keep the nationalist movement from falling into the hands of the Communists and the far left represented by the NDP’s Waffle initiative, said Stephen Azzi, a professor of political management at Carleton University in Ottawa.

“The RCMP intelligence unit appeared to be staffed by people with little knowledge, with scant research skills and with deep paranoia,” Azzi said in an interview.

The Mounties studiously monitored the committee through the 1970s, clipping news items and filing memos. A confidential source advised the RCMP of plans for the group’s Ottawa demonstration in January 1975, suggesting they would muster “25-30 people instead of the 60 previously planned.”

By this point, the committee was no longer a potent force in Canadian public life in any event, Azzi sai

Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal prime minister of the day, was openly skeptical of the nationalist agenda but had adroitly harnessed support for the movement to shore up electoral support, particularly in southern Ontario, he added.

Several of the committee’s ideas were realized through creation of Crown corporation Petro-Canada, the Foreign Investment Review Agency, the Canada Development Corporation to foster Canadian-controlled enterprises, and new rules for homegrown content on the airwaves.

Many effects of those policies linger today, Azzi said. “I think our sense of Canada to a large extent was shaped in that period.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2021.

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Travellers to be placed in queues based on vaccine status on arrival at Toronto Pearson airport – CBC.ca

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When travellers arrive at Toronto Pearson International Airport, they’ll be split into two separate queues — vaccinated people in one, with non-vaccinated people or people who are only partially vaccinated in another.

“This is a measure to help streamline the border clearance process,” airport spokesperson Beverly MacDonald told the CBC. “There are different entry requirements for vaccinated and non/partially vaccinated travellers, which have been broadly communicated by the Government of Canada.”

As of July 5, fully vaccinated travellers permitted to enter Canada are exempted from quarantine measures and testing for COVID-19 on their eight day post-arrival.

Travellers are still required to get a pre-entry test, a quarantine plan if not granted the exemption, and an arrival test.

There is also a requirements checklist that involves providing proof of vaccination in ArriveCan — the government portal to submit vaccine information.

Passengers entering Canada from the United States or another international destination will be split into the two queues before reaching Canada Customs.

The process came into effect after the federal government introduced different entry requirements for vaccinated and non/partially vaccinated travel.

“We know that the arrivals experience is different for passengers than it was in pre-pandemic times,” MacDonald said. “We appreciate passengers’ patience as we work with all of our partners to implement Government of Canada requirements for international air travel.”

Toronto Pearson, with its Healthy Airport initiative, has mandated masks and enhanced cleaning measures and its HVAC systems. It says it continues to work with government agencies, airlines, and airports to follow safety protocols.

More information on the airports COVID-19 protocols is available at www.torontopearson.com/readytotravel

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Meet the unvaccinated: Why some Canadians still haven't had the shot – CBC.ca

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Canada’s vaccine campaign has been crushing it lately, with an impressive 80 per cent of eligible Canadians having had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

That statistic distracts from a troubling fact, however: more than six million Canadians still haven’t had a shot, just as experts are warning we need more coverage to beat back a possible surge of cases in the fall.

The first-dose vaccination campaign now seems to be grinding to a halt, with fewer than 50,000 people getting a vaccine each day — down from a peak of over 185,000 last month — even though those doses are now readily available nationwide.

CBC News has spoken to some unvaccinated Canadians to learn more about the hesitancy that has taken hold in some pockets of the country.

Many of the holdouts say they’re concerned about safety and side effects. Others say they’re not happy with the current products on offer.

There are also practical considerations. A number of the unvaccinated have a needle-related phobia that can make getting a shot a frightening experience. Some have severe allergies to the vaccine components. Some rural Canadians have had trouble with access.

Ted Kuntz (centre) Director and Vice President of Vaccine Choice Canada, joins fellow protesters in observing a minute’s silence during a rally against Ontario’s vaccination law outside the legislature in Toronto on Oct. 29, 2019. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

And experts also suggest somewhere between two and 10 per cent of the population is vehemently opposed to vaccines — no matter what public health officials say about the many benefits of getting a shot.

Nadina Smith graduated from teachers’ college this spring and she’s feeling the pressure from family and friends to get a shot before school starts up in the fall.

Smith, who is from Alberta, told CBC News she’s researched the science behind various COVID-19 vaccines and she’s most comfortable with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, which uses the more conventional viral vector vaccine technology.

Such vaccines use a modified version of a different virus (the vector) to deliver instructions to cells, and are widely used to prevent infectious diseases like influenza.

New tech vs. old tech

Canada ordered the J&J shot — 300,000 doses were delivered months ago — but there are no plans to use it as part of the vaccination campaign. Government officials have said the provinces and territories have shown no interest in obtaining this product.

“I know the traditional vaccines aren’t rated quite as effective in the research — but I’m comfortable with that style. I would happily go at this very moment to get that,” Smith said.

WATCH: What you can expect after your second vaccine dose

As Ontario accelerates the rollout for people’s second doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, many are reportedly having a stronger reaction to the second shot than their first. Dwight Drummond spoke with Dr. Jeff Kwong, a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluation Sciences (ICES), about the science behind side effects. 3:35

While the mRNA products produced by Pfizer and Moderna have been deemed safe and effective by Health Canada and other regulators after a careful review of clinical trial data, Smith said she’s still reluctant to accept a vaccine that was developed so quickly.

She said she’s not opposed to vaccines (she describes herself not as “vaccine hesitant” but as “mRNA vaccine hesitant”) but she’s concerned about the possible long-term effects of mRNA shots in particular, which use relatively new technology.

‘I don’t want to be the guinea pig’

“How do we know what kind of impact this is going to have on our bodies? Am I gonna have a third eye in 20 years?” she said.

“I mean, I know I’m not gonna have a third eye, but I’m just trying to explain what I mean. We don’t know what the potential outcomes are in the long term.

“The only thing that would have swayed me is if there was some sort of research or study of the long-term effects of COVID mRNA. For me, that is a huge concern and I don’t want to be the guinea pig.”

A staff member sets up an antibody production line at the Ibex building of Lonza, where the Moderna mRNA coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine was produced, in Visp, Switzerland on Sept. 29, 2020. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

Messenger RNA, or mRNA, directs protein production in cells throughout the body to trigger an immune response and protect against infectious diseases.

While an mRNA vaccine has never been on the market until now, mRNA vaccines have been tested in humans for at least four infectious diseases: rabies, influenza, cytomegalovirus and Zika. No long-term side effects from those products have been reported.

Researchers have been studying mRNA technology and its potential for three decades. With an injection of hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency funding from the U.S. government and other sources, companies like Moderna and BioNTech (and BioNTech’s partner Pfizer) turned a promising piece of molecular biology into a usable product that has been deployed in several hundred million people to great effect.

Mixed messages

Lorie Carty, a retiree from Prince Edward County, Ont., said the actions of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and Health Canada — two bodies that have sometimes offered competing advice about vaccines, most notably about the AstraZeneca product — have made her question the safety of the vaccines.

“It seems like they’re flying by the seat of their pants, trying to figure things out as they go along and there’s just so much mixed information,” Carty said of federal health officials.

WATCH: Prime minister, medical experts offer reassurance on COVID vaccines

Prime Minister Justsin Trudeau and medical experts tried to reassure Canadians that all approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said some vaccines were preferred over others. 2:05

She said she has an appointment booked but she keeps rescheduling because she’s just not ready to commit.

“I want to be sure before I put that in my body because once it’s in there, there’s no going back,” Carty said.

“I’m not saying I’m an anti-vaccine person. I just don’t have enough confidence. We really don’t know the long-term effects. There’s just so many questions and every day you read something different.”

Lorie Carty, a retiree from Prince Edward County, Ont., said the actions of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and Health Canada have made her question the safety of the vaccines. (Submitted by Lorie Carty)

Andriy Petriv is a long-haul truck driver from the Toronto area. He said he and his wife got sick with what they think was COVID-19 shortly after Christmas. While they didn’t get tested, Petriv said they had all the usual symptoms.

‘I just don’t see the point’

To satisfy his curiosity, he said, he recently had an antibody test to see if he had developed any immunity to COVID-19. The test, which is used to determine past infection, showed that he had developed some antibodies to the virus.

“Since I already had it, I don’t see the point of taking a vaccine. It could be dangerous in some cases and given the fact that I already have antibodies, why should I even take a risk?” he said in an interview.

“If I have to take it, I’ll take it. I’m not scared of vaccines. I just don’t see the point. Why put something in my body just to have a certificate or something? If you’re not thirsty, why should you drink just to make somebody happy?”

He said he’s also disturbed by the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so far only granted the COVID-19 vaccines an emergency use authorization, not “full approval” — a process that can sometimes take years. The FDA has said full approval is coming.

Health experts maintain that even people with past infections should get a vaccine. Some jurisdictions, however — including Quebec, France, Germany and Italy — have been administering just a single dose to anyone with a confirmed previous diagnosis.

Dr. Kumanan Wilson is a researcher at the University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital whose expertise includes infectious disease. (CBC)

“While you will receive some immunity from having a previous infection, it remains unclear the duration and breadth of that immunity,” said Dr. Kumanan Wilson, a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa.

“It’s uncertain whether being exposed to a previous version or variant of the virus will protect you against new variants as strongly as a vaccine will.”

Vaccine acceptance is growing

Shannon MacDonald is an associate professor in the faculty of nursing at the University of Alberta. Before the immunization campaign got underway, she conducted a study on the acceptability of COVID-19 vaccines among the Canadian population.

She found that, in general, the vast majority of Canadians are not diametrically opposed to vaccines. In fact, fewer than 2 per cent of Canadian parents refuse childhood shots for their kids.

Knowing little about the shots that would soon be deployed, 65 per cent of Canadians polled for MacDonald’s study said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as Health Canada approved one for use — a figure she described as “hugely encouraging.”

The number of willing vaccine recipients has grown steadily since that study was published.

“Unfortunately, the small proportion are quite vocal and there’s a perception that they’re bigger than they are. I think focusing on people who have really legitimate questions — and when I say legitimate questions, I don’t mean their concerns are necessarily based on facts — is really key,” MacDonald said in an interview.

‘Breakthrough cases’ extremely rare

MacDonald said the best way to convince the hesitant is to show them the data on just how effective the vaccines have been at preventing infection.

For example, of the 403,149 COVID-19 cases reported in Ontario between December 14, 2020 and July 10 of this year, just 0.4 per cent were so-called “breakthrough cases” — COVID-19 infections in people who had received their second doses 14 days prior.

A father holds his son in the shade as his family waits for over six hours for their COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up mass vaccination clinic in Toronto on June 17, 2021. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

About 4 per cent of all cases reported in that seven-month period were people who were partially vaccinated with just one dose. The rest, of course, were unvaccinated.

As of July 10, fewer than 18,200 of the 10,000,000 people who have received at least one dose so far in Ontario have contracted the virus — 16,358 were infected when they were only partially vaccinated and 1,765 became infected after having two doses.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 97 per cent of the people who have been admitted to hospital recently with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

The trust factor

MacDonald said the very low number of adverse effects should also assure the hesitant that these products are safe.

“The safety profile has been impressively good,” she said. “You could put the message on a billboard and that might reach some people, but for people who are distrustful of the government, pharmaceutical companies, whatever, they need to hear the message from people that they trust. We have to get the message out there.

“All it takes is one case in your unvaccinated community and you’re all at risk.”

According to Public Health Agency of Canada data, there have been only 2,222 serious adverse events reported post-vaccination in Canada as of July 9. That’s just 0.005 per cent of all doses administered.

Vaccine recipients cheer as the number of doses administered — 25,000 — is shown on the big screen at the mass vaccination clinic at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on June 27, 2021. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

Despite these positive indicators, MacDonald said the vaccination campaign will almost certainly hit a wall of entrenched hesitancy.

A fourth wave of cases might convince the unconvinced that they’re better off with a shot, she said. “You’d hate to wait to see an outbreak to say, ‘See this is what could happen.’ But that might be the case.”

She said public health authorities should still try to persuade some of the unvaccinated but, at a certain point, those energies might be better spent on getting the partially vaccinated back for that crucial second dose.

“Let’s focus on them instead of jumping through one hundred hoops to try and get a first dose into people who aren’t interested,” she said.

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