Feb 282005

According to IBM, businesses and governments are desperately in need of search solutions that are limited to internal documents and media which accumulate in a vastly unstructured manner. IBM states, “The high-value information in these vast collections of data is, unfortunately, buried in lots of noise. Searching for what you want in unstructured sources is impractical. First the data must be analyzed to detect and locate items of interest. The results must, in turn, be structured so that powerful search technologies like search engines and database engines can efficiently find what you need, when you need it. The bridge from the unstructured world to the structured is analysis. IBM’s Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) is an architecture and framework that helps you build that bridge.”

Big corporations and governments may have millions of documents and other media (videos, audio, etc.) floating around its vast intranet with practically no coherent structure at all. And while the structure is absent, the documents themselves may be very valuable to many groups within the organization if they can be found.

A couple of examples IBM talks about is a software search application that can process “millions of medical abstracts to discover critical drug interactions,” or an application that can process “tens of millions of documents to discover key evidence indicating probable competitive threats.”

A different method of search is needed for these documents than is available with typical web search. Documents like these rarely have links to other websites or pages and are pretty much dead ends in terms of search. What UIMA does, however, is that once it finds a document the application automatically generates editable meta data so that discovery on subsequent searches is much easier.

IBM insists that the development of its new UIMA search technology is not for use on the web, but one can only wonder if UIMA turns out to be a blockbuster application, can it be contained for internal business and government use only? Or would IBM want to contain it?

In other news, Cypress Semiconductor has introduced its new Sahasra 50000 Network Search Engine (NSE), believed to be the industry’s first single-chip algorithmic search engine, which combines advanced search algorithms and high-performance memory on a single chip. Could there be a partnership in the brewing between these two sources? Time will tell.

Feb 272005

When you’re trying to get your website traffic on the Internet via link-building campaign, it is important to get your site listed with various search engines and directories. The major search engines and directories like Google and DMOZ are a must, but smaller search engines and directories are also important.

In order to save time and effort looking for all the new search engines that are out there, I’ve compiled a short list of 5 new free search engines and directories that I’ve come across that may be valuable to submit to – so here goes!

Ay-up is a new search engine based in Vancouver, Canada working on Geo Sync Search and Search Personalization Technology.

Search Limo – The goal of SearchLimo Search is to discover and index all of the content available on the web to provide the best possible search experience to our passengerss. The current SearchLimo Search index, is provided through our partnership with SearchFeed, which contains several billion web pages, and is more than 99% populated through the free crawl process.

DirOne – free Internet directory organized by words and related words.

Pedster’s Planet – UK directory which was started in June 2002 as a hobby by Peter Laws. They are considered new because Until recently they didn’t have many visitors, but, since they upgraded our web site directory software, their visitor count has increased considerably.

Directory General – Directory General aims to be the leading directory of business and personal sites on the web. Their directory is built on cross-referenced categories allowing the user to search both by subject and by location and they employ professional editors instead of volunteer editors.

I realize that this is not a very long list. But if you have been around for a while and have developed your own long list, you’ll realized that coming up with a few new search engines and directories to add to your list becomes harder and harder. So, hopefully, this short list will be helpful to some, and I will add to this list in futures blogs.

Feb 262005

According to Jupiter Research, “Search will develop like TV and print publishing markets.” Jupiter draws a parallel between the development of search and the television industry which started out with the Big 3, NBC, CBS and ABC leading the market at first, only to see its market share splintered off by more specific television stations like CNN, MTV and the many movie channels offered by HBO and others. According to Jupiter’s article, Google, Yahoo! and MSN are the new NBC, CBS and ABC of search.

They go on to say in their press release that the four horsemen of vertical search, retail, financial services, media and entertainment and travel – accounted for 79% of the $2.6 billion spent on paid search in 2004, which means these areas are ripe for search engine development and advertising dollars. Many naysayers have spoken out against this analogy but I can see this happening.

A news search engine that focuses on the news, the whole news and nothing but the news I think will do well. This news search engine can tap into resources around the world for the latest breaking updates from around the globe and even have expert commentators, anchors or guides similar to the About.com model. Experts in many different areas can blog their opinions on the latest news, trends and new analysis and even various moderated blogging debates can take place between various groups. Combine this with streaming video and digital sound and this may give the CNN TV news show a run for their money.

An all business search engine with a similar model will also do well as search can deliver more in-depth information than television itself can and has the ability to tap into many different sources simultaneously which is beyond the scope of television. So, search many not only run parallel to the development of the television industry, but take market share away from the TV industry as well.

Many people still don’t realize that search is still in its infancy, in many respects, and as more people become more sophisticated users of the Internet interests will start to wander away from the Big 3 search engines into more specific wants and needs. Vertical search, I believe, within the next 5 – 10 years will be THE landscape instead of the potted flowers sitting on the front lawn as it is right now.

Feb 252005

A few weeks ago, I reported about the “new & improved” AOL Search and how it is geared more for advertisers than for consumers. AOL Search has now rolled out its new product and the reception has received mixed results.

According to an article on CNET, “AOL has added a clustering technology to AOL Search to automatically organize relevant search results by topics. That information is displayed alongside the list of general Web search results and is designed to reduce the need to wade through a long list.” I find this to be perhaps the most useful feature of the new AOL Search as AOL offers some good alternative guestimates of what a searcher may be looking for, plus by clicking on one of these Web Matches it cuts down on the paid Sponsored Links.

There is also a Recent Search History feature, which may be helpful for some searchers. As you type into the search box some alternatives are listed to assist your search and if the search happens to be about a company listed on one of the stock exchanges, you can click on “Get company info for…” and be taken to a Quotes and News section about that particular company.

Like I had stated before though, there is way too much real estate given to the search results pages for Sponsored Links as the organic results seem to be enveloped like a slice of lox on a bagel sandwich. And the organic results are not even AOL results as they are served up by Google.

In addition, if you navigate your way to the AOL Directory, you’ll not see AOL results either but DMOZ listings. All-in-all, the new AOL Search is simply a new candy wrapper around the Google / DMOZ candy.

Feb 242005

Suppose your website does business with both the U. S. and UK. How do you go about optimizing for both? This is a good question, considering there are language differences even if it is English versus English. For instance, “color” versus “colour”, “meter” versus “metre” and “elevator” versus “lift”.

If you use both spellings on the same website, then your text does not read well for your visitors. Also, if one of these words in question, happens to be a keyword for your page, then you’ll dilute the keyword density by going with both spellings.

On the other hand, if you set up two websites, one website as .com and the other as .co.uk in order to capitalize (capitalise) on the top-level domain bias, then you run the risk of incurring a duplicate content penalty from the search engines, particularly Google.

To make matters even trickier, http://www.google.co.uk/ has an option to search “the web” or “pages from the UK”. By picking “pages from the UK” more .co.uk websites appear in the top rankings.

One solutions is to set up two sites, one with .com and one with .co.uk TLD’s and offer alternative spellings on the pages. It will be important also to make these pages different enough to avoid the duplicate content penalty.

Is it really necessary to set up two different websites focusing on each country? The simple answer is no. If you do a UK Google search (pages from the UK), you’ll find some .com sites listed at the top along with all of the .co.uk websites. What is it about the .com sites that get them ranked in the top of the UK listings?

I’ve done a few quick ‘n’ dirty searches of the source code to find that these sites do have references to the UK on these pages. Some use UK in the meta tags, but the most common unifying feature of these sites is that they have at least one link to an external UK website or UK mentioned in their own internal URL’s such as a sub-folder that is part of the URL string. These URL’s are what seems to make the difference.

Anyway, it is worth experimenting with this as a way to bridge the gap between English and English. This search engine optimization firm recommends it. Or is it optimisation?

Feb 232005

Heather Lloyd-Martin, the Director of Search Strategies for webSourced, Inc., says pay-per-call combined with local search is a marketing avenue which is ready for prime time. Pay-per-call is something that will appeal to small-to-medium sized businesses, especially those local businesses who do not have a website.

According to Dan Ballister, Vice President of Sales for FindWhat, “Pay-per-call is an incredibly uncomplicated product. Instead of title, description and URL (a PPC ad format,) the ad lists a title, description and a phone number.” Merchants are charged when someone calls their toll-free number, instead of when someone clicks over to their website as is the case with a traditional pay-per-click ad.

Pay-per-call commands a higher bid rate than pay-per-click since the conversion on the phone is higher than with clicks. Customers would rather talk with a live person than send an email and wait for a reply, which may not return in a timely manner. Pay-per-call makes sense for many industries including mortgage brokers, credit and debt management companies, mortgage banks, real estate agents and the adult industry.

It will be interesting to see, as this industry develops, how many pay-per-call girls appear on the Internet because of this new marketing method. Don’t delay, call now – smooth operators are standing by. Anyway, besides the obvious implications for the adult industry, combining search and phone is another way of humanizing the Internet and getting customers what they need quickly and efficiently.

Pay-per-calling all advertisers, start your campaign today. Customers are standing by.

More Info

Feb 222005

Remember the “Freedom Fries” controversy a couple years back when the U. S. first went to war with Iraq and the French protested this decision?

Well, once again another Anglo-French conflict has arisen and this time over books. Jean-Noel Jeanneney, who heads France’s national library is beating the war drum over Google’s plans to put some of the world’s great libraries on the Internet. Jeanneney in a protectionist and what he calls a “multi-polar world” view wants to insure that France is not being bombarded with American ideas from the world’s leading search engine.

According to Jeanneney, “I favor a multi-polar view of the world in the 21st century,” he said. “I don’t want the French Revolution retold just by books chosen by the United States. The picture presented may not be less good or less bad, but it will not be ours.”

In his latest move, Jeanneney has put 22 French periodicals and newspapers on the Internet for public viewing.

As the head of France’s national library, Jeanneney is in the perfect position to work with Google, if he chooses to do so, in disseminating the information from the French point of view. He can also open up the national library to other French search engines, directories and publications as well. I think making this a positive rather than a negative will serve Jeanneney and France better in terms of getting what is needed and building international relations.

Some U. S. citizens may take this opportunity to do a little French-bashing over this controversy, but there is a greater opportunity here. There is an opportunity to dialogue and clarify, be a good neighbor and to realize that not everyone in the world wants us to impose our ideas upon them “for their own good.”

Feb 212005

The Better Business Bureau has just reported that identity theft online is much less prevelant than identity theft offline, contradicting the fears and perceptions of many. In fact, 89-percent of the identity theft is committed offline with 50-percent being by someone who is close to the victim (family member, relative or friend).

In 2004, 11.6-percent of identity theft occurred because of computer crimes most of which (6 – 7 percent) can be attributed to spyware on the users PC. Online transactions account for approximately 3-percent of the identity theft. Even at this low percentage, identity theft is bad news for the consumer so here’s what you can do to protect yourself online.

How you can avoid being defrauded by identity theft online

1. Avoid Phishing schemes. Never give out personal info such as logon, password, credit card info or social security number when you receive an email asking for such information. Contact the vendors directly, not through the email. Some of the Phishing scams have included such big names as Ebay, Paypay, Wells Fargo. Make sure you go to their legitimate website (such as ebay.com or paypal.com) to report such activity and not a bogus site set up to snatch your info.

2. Install anti-spyware software on your PC

3. Install a Firewall and Virus Protection on your PC

4. Monitor your bank account online (those who do monitor online experience 1/8 the losses than ones who monitors their accounts through paper statements)

5. Be wary. If it smells like it could be a scam it probably is.

Even though it is safer to fly than drive and buy online than off, the perception still continues that one if much more dangerous than the other, though the facts say otherwise. The important thing is to take logical measures that will give you peace of mind, with both your online and offline transactions. A paper shredder for offline and security software and common sense for online transactions will go a long way to securing your own identity.

Who’s on first? I Don’t Know. No, I Don’t Know is on third and he’s not giving out his credit card number in response to an email asking him to update his account.

Abbott and Costello Online Security Preparedness Training has finally come into its own.

Feb 192005

The New York Times has announced that it will buy information portal and content provider About.com for $410 million at about a 30-percent discount on what Primedia paid for this property in the year 2000.

The New York Times Company, whose newspapers include the New York Times and the Boston Globe, stated that the move was to increase online visibility and promote more of its products online.

About.com is based on Guides (or experts) who write articles and help readers find information that is of help to them. About.com also has a database of over 1,800,000 articles and when that is presumably merged with the huge archive of information in the New York Times Company, this will strengthen About’s presence as a content producer immeasurably.

Time will tell if this will become another AOL / Time-Warner fiasco or something truly new and beneficial to both corporations and online customers as well. As the old saying goes, “Money can’t be you love, but at least it will get you a first date.” More to follow.

In other news, one of my current customers, Associated Content strives to model itself after the success of About.com. Associated Content is open to writers, photographers, artists and graphic artists who wish to publish and showcase their work. They are also looking for experts in several different areas who would like to make a mark for themselves in this emerging business property.

Strike now while the iron is hot.

Feb 182005

Microsoft has announced that a new standalone Internet Explorer 7.0 browser (beta) will be available this summer, reversing their previous stance that no new upgrades to IE would roll out in advance of the long-awaited Longhorn operating system.

According to an article on CNET, the decision was made because, “I think it’s a response to both the delay of Longhorn and the challenge of Firefox,” said NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin, who added that Firefox was probably the sharper spur. “Were there no Firefox, they’d have more leeway to sit on it until Longhorn.”

But according to Mike Nash, an executive in Microsoft’s security business and technology unit, the move is all about security and not competition. IE 6.0 has been trashed by Webmasters and the media for all sorts of security leaks and in particular its vulnerability to Phishing scams. IE 7.0 is supposed to tackle both Phishing and spyware and other security leaks not addressed by IE 6.0.

Even Bill Gates himself conceded, “Browsing is definitely a point of vulnerability.”

The details of how the roll out of Internet Explorer 7.0 is to happen is unclear at this point in time. It could be part of a service pack release or another avenue. But, what clear is that Firefox is chipping away at the IE empire and Microsoft is starting to respond like a nimbler, smaller company instead of a huge corporate behemoth. The response by Microsoft is more customer-focused, than me-focused and if it takes a little competition to make this happen, then we all benefit from this kind of competition.

In any event, if Internet Explorer 7.0 is able to eliminate Phishing, then there will be more time to hang the “Gone Fishing” signs on all of our doors.