Apr 292005

Google is beta testing its new site-targeted AdWords feature so that advertisers may pick the websites on which they want their Google ads to appear. According to Google, “Since Google first introduced AdWords, advertisers have asked us for the ability to run their ads on specific websites. Site targeting gives our users that ability, while also allowing their ads to compete for ranking with traditional keyword-targeted AdWords ads. It’s one more tool that AdWords advertisers can use to bring their message to highly-targeted groups of web users.”

Google goes onto say, “Advertisers will create and manage site-targeted campaigns in their normal AdWords account, in the same manner as keyword-targeted campaigns. When first creating any new campaign you’ll decide whether to run site-targeted or keyword-targeted ads. For site-targeted campaigns, you’ll be able to enter the URLs of sites where you’d like to advertise. You’ll also be able to tell us the type of site you’re looking for and we’ll help out by suggesting possible sites from the Google content network.”

This new site-targeted AdWords feature will no doubt be helpful to many advertisers who wish to reach more targeted visitors such as those visitors who come to popular online magazines. The one area that Google has not adequately explained yet is how they intend to battle misuse of this new service. For instance, a popular online Christian magazine running an AdSense campaign is now displaying Google ads with a Christian theme. Suppose that tomorrow an online pharmacy chooses to target Viagra ads to this same site. Will Google filter out this choice? Will the online Christian magazine be able to block certain kinds of ads from running on its website? Or perhaps a politically conservative site wants to stir things up and run and ad on a liberal website? Who gets to choose the acceptability of this content? Inquiring minds want to know.

The positive potential for the new site-targeted AdWords feature is enormous but also is the potential for abuse. Hopefully, Google will make is clear in the coming weeks how it intends to guard against spam in their new service offering. Many AdSense publishers are waiting to see how this will affect them.

Apr 272005

When Microsoft’s long-awaited Longhorn operating system is finally rolled out later this year or early next year it will include a new document format that they have dubbed “Metro.” Metro is based on XML (extensible markup language), and is expected to rival Adobe’s PDF (portable document format).

According to Computer World, “The Metro technology is likely to go head-to-head with Adobe’s PostScript technology. ‘It is a potential Adobe killer,’ said Richard Doherty, research director with The Envisioneering Group in Seaford, New York. ‘But this is just the first warning shot. Adobe could put something that is even more compelling [on top of] Longhorn.’”

Metro will be licensed royalty-free. Users will not need a special client in order to open the Metro files and the printing of the files are expected to deliver better and faster results than the current PDF files. Bill Gates made this announcement Monday in Seattle as part of the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC).

In addition to Metro, Gates also announced the introduction of 64-bit Windows operating systems and predicted that 64-bit hardware would be mainstream on servers by the end of the year.

What these two announcements mean to the end user is: better and faster. Better and faster printing and better and faster servers and end user PC’s. It’s good to see that after a couple of years on cruise control that Microsoft has finally decided to once again take innovation by the horns, or the Longhorn as it may be.

Apr 252005

If you haven’t already heard, on Friday, April 22, 2005 Google began its toolbar Page Rank update, for real. Whether it was an early April Fool’s Day joke or a burp, glitch or hitch in the update, reports were on March 25, 2005 that Google was updating the toolbar PR and the update did not complete. This brings to mind the question of whether or not Google is on a quarterly PR toolbar update schedule as they have been for the past year or if the schedule is more random now? Or, did Google simply blow their scheduled update by six weeks?

As usual, Google isn’t telling since they maintain that the toolbar PR is for “entertainment purposes only.” While Google is correct in its claim, the faulty perception of many in the community is quite the opposite. Many Webmasters will not trade links on pages that have a least a certain Page Rank. When a website’s PR goes up a notch, some will take this as justification to charge more for text link advertisements.

Those with a high PR may gloat will others with a lower PR may feel frustrated and seek to do “whatever it takes” to increase their website’s PR. Unfortunately, Page Rank has been a great distraction from keeping one’s eye on the ball. Page Rank is not the game or the goal. The goal is more traffic, more sales, more profits. Some lose sight of this in their quest for high PR. When you take a look at the SERP’s you’ll notice that they are not arranged in Page Rank order.

Since the SERP’s are not arranged in Page Rank order, then why spend time developing PR instead of developing your website in a way that will garner higher rankings and more traffic? This may be another reason that Google was late with the Page Rank update, because PR just isn’t that important. Google has maintained this all along. We just need to get the word out so that more people will listen.

Apr 222005

Every once in a blue moon a new free tool comes along that is so useful for Webmasters and SEO specialists that it just has to be written about. A company called Domain-Pop.com has come up with such a free tool for checking a website’s back links.

This back link checker adds a couple of new features that other free tools do not. For instance, all that is required is to input a website domain name and run the check. Larger websites may take a while, but its worth the wait. Besides offering the full URL’s of the back links, Domain Pop also offers the IP address associated with the URL and the Google Page Rank (PR) of the page that your back link sits upon.

Having the Google PR listed gives one valuable information about the “worth” of their back links that can be used to analyze and create further linking strategies. With this tool, one can also analyze a competitor’s back links and come up with a list of potential new link partners. In addition, with this tool, you’ll be able to check to see if there are any suspicious websites or networks linking to your site that may be damaging your site’s rankings. Having the IP address associated with your back links also gives valuable information since it is important to have many back links coming from many different IP addresses rather than the same address.

So, if you’re looking for a new tool to help you look at your back links in a new way, stop by the Domain-Pop.com website and try the free tool out for yourself. You may just gain the knowledge you’ve been looking for in regard to your back linking program.

Apr 202005

An article in USA Today states that Google has lost its ICANN challenge to Froogles.com owner, Richard Wolfe. Google tried making the case that Wolfe’s Froogles.com was infringing upon its Froogle.com shopping site and the Google trademark because the domain names were too similar to each other. A panel of three New York judges voted 2 to 1 to dismiss the case. According to USA Today, “Froogles.com name will remain with Richard Wolfe, a disabled Holtsville, N.Y., carpenter who started the Web shopping site in March 2001, before Google introduced Froogle in December 2002.”

In a separate hearing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Wolfe has challenged Google’s use of the Froogle as infringing upon his Froogles mark.

According to Wolfe, “”It still amazes me that I should have to go through this at all. I started my shopping service called Froogles almost two years before Google started a shopping service called Froogle. What more does anyone need to know?” Google had previously filed 18 other domain name complaints with the ICANN panel and this is the first that they’ve lost.

Apparently, the owners of the Halloween website, Boogle, the people search site, Whoogle and the animal park site, Zoogle are rethinking their domain names right now. You never know when Google will hire the attorney site Soogle to baffle, befuddle and bewilder you into submission.

Apr 182005

Adobe Systems, Inc. has released a press release stating that Adobe is in the process of acquiring Macromedia for $3.4 billion dollars with the deal to close this Fall 2005. According to Adobe, “The combination of Adobe and Macromedia will provide customers a more powerful set of solutions for creating, managing and delivering compelling content and experiences across multiple operating systems, devices and media. Together, the two companies will meet a wider set of customer needs and have a significantly greater opportunity to grow into new markets, particularly in the mobile and enterprise segments.”

According to Bruce Chizen, chief executive officer of Adobe, “Customers are calling for integrated software solutions that enable them to create, manage and deliver a wide range of compelling content and applications – from documents and images to audio and video. By combining our powerful development, authoring and collaboration software – along with the complementary functionality of PDF and Flash – Adobe has the opportunity to bring this vision to life with an industry-defining technology platform”

This all sounds good. A couple of questions one has to wonder about, though is what will happen to Dreamweaver and what will become of Freehand? Macromedia Dreamweaver is the Internet’s most popular web page creation package, which is a direct competitor to Adobe’s GoLive. On the other hand, Macromedia Freehand is less popular than Adobe Illustrator, but has a devoted and vocal core following.

It will be interesting to see if the future will bring Adobe Dreamweaver to the forefront and stop GoLive altogether, leaving it to go die? Also, will Freehand be tied up and left to sink while Illustrator takes center stage with only the distant second cousin CorelDraw as the only competition left? And what kind of coupe would Corel be for a second takeover target. Adobe has been long-know for “buying the competition” so Adobe’s most recent move should surprise no one. Less competition only makes Adobe that much stronger.

Apr 152005

Both the L. A. Daily News and the Los Angeles Times have run stories regarding a company called Optin Global Inc., which has been given a temporary restraining order from a San Francisco judge in regards to allegedly sending out spam emails. The judge has also frozen their assets. The Federal Trade Commission made the accusation after receiving 1.8 million consumer complaints against Optin Global.

Optin Global and its partner Media Limited Corp. has been accused by the FTC of sending out unsolicited mass emails regarding home mortgages, travel deals and prescription drugs. According to the FTC, the emails are fraudulent because the sender information is falsified, they fail to offer the consumer a way to opt-out, they contain false subject lines and are not marked as advertisements plus a few other violations put in place to thwart spam.

According to John Chu, attorney for Optin Global, his clients are innocent because “They are the middlemen” in this operation. Chu is pointing the finger at Optin Global’s 100 email marketing subcontractors who may have sent out the illegal emails.

These articles bring up some good points in regards to opt-in email companies of which there are many. Typically an opt-in email company will gather lists of opt-in email addresses where consumers have actually requested that they be contacted via email or newsletter for additional information about a product or service. The opt-in email company will gather the list and then sell the list to online marketers who will, in turn, send out the actual emails and newsletters.

So the question, which has not been answered so far in this case, is did Optin Global gather and sell its lists or did they give their lists to their 100 subcontractors and order them to send out emails which violated the 2004 anti-spamming federal legislation? Did one of the subcontractors become a rogue spammer unbeknownst to Optin Global or did Optin Global have knowledge of the methods that were being used to deliver these emails?

If all of these emails originated as opt-in emails (as the name Optin Global suggests), then why use spammy techniques to deliver them? Apparently these are the questions that San Francisco U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti and the FTC also want to know. A hearing is scheduled for May 10, so we’ll learn more at this time.

Apr 142005

According to a story in BusinessWire.com, AOL has unveiled its top keyword searches for Spring 2005, which gives insight into what consumers are looking for as they get ready for the Summer season. BusinessWire says, “The results are based on the people and topics that received the highest volume of online queries nationally on AOL Search from January 1 to March 21, 2005.”

Jim Riesenbach, Senior Vice President, AOL Search and Navigation states, “Looking at search terms seasonally and seeing what’s gaining in popularity on AOL Search can reveal a lot about emerging trends and what’s hot with consumers. Whether they’re planning an important event like a wedding or simply making vacation plans, more and more consumers are getting the information they need with they help of AOL Search.”

AOL Search breaks the leading 10 categories down into:

1. Baseball Players
2. Baseball Teams
3. Cleaning
4. Tax Forms
5. Colleges and Universities
6. Diets
7. Destinations
8. Flowers
9. Proms
10. Weddings

The top search term in each category above are Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, vacuum cleaners, 1040 EZ, Duke University, Weight Watchers, Hawaii, roses, prom dresses and wedding gowns. When conducting keyword research such as this for business purposes it is also recommended that these results be cross-references from other sources as well.

A few great resources in which to reference these results are the Overture Keyword Tool, WordTracker and Google Zeitgeist. By cross referencing results one’s strategy on just how to use this keyword information becomes much clearer.

Apr 132005

In order to encourage businesses to sign up with Yahoo! business listings at a local level, Yahoo! Local is giving away a free 5-page website to businesses who sign up for their services. According to Yahoo! you can “Promote your business to highly qualified prospects in your area by listing your business on Yahoo! Local. Each listing features detailed information that sets your business apart. Plus, now every business in the U.S. can get a FREE web site.”

This new offering not only encourages businesses to jump onboard the Internet train, but also take advantage of Yahoo!’s Enhanced Local Listings offering as well. Yahoo! is trying to tap into the ‘late adopters’ to the Internet, marketing to this group specifically. And just what is the number one way to market to people? Yes, that’s right, give away something of value for free.

Consumers and businesses alike, like to receive freebies. Whether you’re talking about Hotmail.com giving away free email service or Google and its free 1 or 2 Gig Gmail service or free ad stats utilities, search boxes, news feeds or whatever, the word “free” is like gold. Once you get a customer onboard by offering a freebie, then it is much easier to market to them.

By providing a free website to business owners who have been thinking about the need to establish a web presence, Yahoo! is establishing would could be many long-term business relationships. So giving away something for free could turn into a fortune for Yahoo!.

Apr 122005

There is a website named Googlest, which tracks the highest paying AdSense keywords from Google for public consumption. The keywords are tracked by region, so regional differences are readily apparent. Googlest tracks the maximum and average cost per click (CPC) for each high cost keyword phrase.

This website is an important information site for those who already have an AdSense banner on their websites and wish to add more content and optimize in order to capture higher CPC rates and for those who like to build websites from the ground up focused on certain high CPC keyword phrases.

In fact, with this information, one may wish to start an entire business focused around building websites that will capture this high AdSense payouts as the main form of income from their sites. The results are compiled daily so users have the most recent information on AdSense CPC rates. The one shortcoming, though, is the lack of historical data and trends.

If one was to build a business around building websites targeting the high CPC keyword phrases, then the ability to do some sort of trend analysis over the long run would be mandatory. As it stands now, though, Googlest is still a valuable tool for those who are currently running AdSense ads and wish to add content and target a few more keyword phrases that can deliver top dollar for their bottom lines.