May 312005
 

Google has set aside its automated search in favor of a manual search of the Boston-Cambridge area for new office space for its new east coast Googleplex, according to an article in the Boston Business Journal. Google executives have hired well-known real estate agency Trammell Crow Company to show them what is available in the area. The price-sensitive executives apparently are not looking in the high-rise buildings, which command higher per square foot rental rates, but rather in alternative areas that can provide 75,000 square feet upfront with an option to grow to over 200,000 square feet if necessary. The expansion could happen as early as the year’s end.

Google is looking in this college-town marketplace in order to find 1,000 mid-salary workers (ages 22-30), which are expected to inhabit the new weight roomed, grand piano-ed, video gamed, volley ball courted East Coast Googleplex compound. According to the Journal, “The ‘Googleplex’ concept features lava lamps in the lobby, exercise balls and bicycles in the hallway, recreation facilities that include a foosball table and roller hockey in the parking lot twice a week. Employees, or ‘googlers’ as they are called, work in groups of three or four people who share space with couches and pets.”

Apparently, the expansion queries have come after Google posted $1.2 billion in revenue in the first quarter this year. Of this amount, $584 million was generated through Google’s partner sites. It is clear now that Google has gone beyond Internet search. Google is expanding and crawling soon to a town near you.

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May 272005
 

According to an Associated Press story, an Oregon woman is suing Yahoo! for $3 million over naked photos that her ex-boyfriend had posted and which Yahoo! failed to remove in a timely manner. Ms. Barnes, a 48-year-old woman from Multnomah County, claims her ex-boyfriend started posting “unauthorized profiles” in December that included her email address and work phone number.

According to the Associated Press, “Moreover, the former boyfriend engaged in online discussions in Yahoo chat rooms, posing as Barnes and directing men to the profiles, the suit claims. Due to these profiles and online chats, unknown men would arrive without warning at plaintiff’s work expecting to engage in sexual relations with her,” the suit says.

The AP goes on to say, “Barnes sent Yahoo a letter in January saying she did not create the profiles and wanted them removed. Additional attempts to get Yahoo to remove them in February and March failed to prompt a response, claims the suit.”

Does the search engine giant, Yahoo! actually want these kinds of legal woes? Their behavior suggests that perhaps they do. Yahoo! must know that it would be very easy for a person like Ms. Barnes to do some Internet searching for “character defamation” and happen upon a site such as Personal Injury Lawsuits to find out more about libel, slander and personal injuries that include compensation for embarrassment and other kinds of emotional pain and suffering.

And the kicker is, that she probably conducted all of her Internet legal research on Yahoo!

May 252005
 

Web page hijacking has been around for about a year now and is getting worse. Many other SEO blogs have reported that even Google itself has had its own page hijacked. This is ironic, since the hijacking problem is Google-related and the search giant has known about this problem, but has failed to address it.

There is even a movement within the SEO community to bang the drum so loudly that Google will be forced to address the issue. Since Google has become a big, publicly traded corporation, they have taken on the, “If no one’s making noise, then it must not be broken” stance. Well, there has been noise, but perhaps not enough noise. And like anybody else who doesn’t want to spend the time to fix something, they deny there is a problem.

But there is a problem. By simply building a blank HTML page and adding a meta refresh tag from site A to site B, with a zero second refresh rate, a Webmaster can trick Google into thinking the hijacked page is the original page. Why would someone want to hijack a page? For the Page Rank and the visitors. Spammers have found an easy method to skirt the real work and parasitically take what is not theirs.

SEO Dotcomicide has actually posted a screenshot of the hijacked Google page. A company called all-in-one-business.com has taken the top position in the rankings for the search term “adsense”. Most likely this was not a malicious trick, but a way to call attention that there is indeed a problem. Sometimes a problem is not a problem until it happens inside your own home.

May 232005
 

Yahoo! has decided to open up a contest for the top hack of its new Y!Q product. The Y!Q Challenge offers $5000 to the Webmaster with the most innovative use of its new context search technology on his or her website. According to Yahoo! the entries will be judged on:

  • Relevance
  • Prominence
  • Placement
  • Usefulness

According to Yahoo! they are running the contest “to encourage publishers to use Y!Q on their sites. By implementing Y!Q, publishers will have a head-start in using one of the many new offerings that Yahoo! has planned for publishers in the near future.”

Its great to see a large company like Yahoo! engaging the public in such a personal way in order to improve their products. By conducting a contest (or focus group) Yahoo! stands to gain a great deal of knowledge of what the public wants and how the public would best make use of their products. Donald Trump, in his Apprentice Television show, would surely approve of such a method of finding out what the public wants and then giving it to them.

Its good also to see Yahoo! engaging the hacker community, to help them use their talents for good for the benefit of everyone. MSN early this year decided to engage the same community to bang on their search product and offer advice in order to help develop a better mouse trap. The only thing missing now is Google following suit and engaging the public in the same manner.

No matter what, though, Yahoo! has taken another great step in engaging the public to participate with their product offerings (A few weeks ago, Yahoo! also started offering a free 5-page website to small businesses in their Local Search program). So, look forward not for the new technological offerings from Yahoo! but also innovative ways in which Yahoo! keeps using to get the word out and engage the public in all it has to offer.

May 202005
 

AskJeeves takes an early summer vacation and buys Excite Europe in an effort to expand its overseas operations. AskJeeves had previously bought the U. S. Excite counterpart in March 2004. Excite is a well-known brand name in the search arena, opening its doors in 1995.

According to the AskJeeves press release, “The acquisition of Excite Europe will extend Ask Jeeves’ ownership of the Excite brand beyond the United States, giving the Company ownership of Excite’s Internet domains throughout Europe as well as control of existing portal offerings in several major European markets including Spain, Italy, France, UK, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. The acquisition provides immediate access to a wealth of resources in the European portal market in terms of users, operations, market knowledge and revenue streams. Ask Jeeves will also have the ability to extend its leading search technology to Excite Europe users.”

AskJeeves still remains a David among the Goliaths of Google, Yahoo! and MSN. However, this has been the year of acquisitions and mergers for the search company. Acquiring Bloglines in February 2005 and then being acquired by IAC/Interactive in late March 2005, AskJeeves continues to aggressively search for a competitive edge against the “Big 3” search giants.

Many top companies have built themselves up through strategic mergers and acquisitions. This may indeed be AskJeeves plan. Scooping up smaller companies with important and beneficial technology is how Adobe has operated and achieved greatness for years. Since AskJeeves, though is the 6th largest global web property, they still have a ways to go in the search engine marathon. But what is clear for 2005, is that AskJeeves is making its move along the track and the Big 3 had better start peeking over their shoulders to see who is coming up from behind.

May 182005
 

The recently released Google Desktop Search for Enterprise is aimed at helping business employees find what they need quickly. According to CNET, the appliance is targeted to “helping workers more quickly find information on the Web, in their computer hard drives and e-mail inboxes, as well as on corporate intranets.”

The Enterprise Edition is based on Google’s Consumer Desktop Search Engine and integrated with Google’s Search Appliance and Mini already in place in many companies. The added benefit of Google’s Desktop Search for Enterprise for businesses is that this product is encrypted added a whole new level of security to search. Google already has Boeing and Morgan Stanley onboard for the Enterprise edition and other big names will follow.

Google has this to say about the productivity benefits of its own Desktop Search for Enterprise:

  • Find your email, files, media, web history and chats instantly
  • View web pages you’ve seen, even when you’re not online
  • Search directly from your desktop with the Deskbar
  • View search results from your desktop, intranet and Google.com

Since we’re talking about the Google Desktop Search for Enterprise with the emphases on “Enterprise”, what would Mr. Spock say about the new technology? “Interesting” may be one utterance or “I find this to be very logical” could be something he would likely say. No matter what, its apparent that Mr. Spock would give two ears up for the new Google Desktop Search for Enterprise. Isn’t that right, Captain?

May 162005
 

Recently, its been reported that some adult Webmasters are spamming their own sites with different combinations of numbers, hoping to cash in on searchers looking for various sets and sequences of numbers. For instance, some people will plug their delivery service tracking numbers in the search engines and pull up results. Their results most likely will appear, but along with those results may be an adult site that contains the same numbers on it. Just another trick up the old spammer’s sleeve.

Besides number spam, another trick is to put up a pseudo dictionary section of a website upon one’s site in order to try to capture traffic from all sorts of off-beat word combinations for which people will search. This is especially effective in capturing those people who like to search in the “AskJeeves full sentence approach”. Unfortunately, the results may just yield a page full of adult sites, which may not be the intention of the searcher. Dictionary spam pages are not valuable to visitors as they are only set up to trick the search engine robots and deliver traffic and move that traffic to another page quickly.

At some point the adult Webmasters may combine the two techniques and come up with single pages that number and dictionary spam into one page. Let’s hope, though, in the future, the search engines will be able to identify and penalize these pages since they provide no real value to the average Internet searcher.

May 132005
 

Local search is becoming more and more relevant to users. I speak from experience since most of my customers now days are finding my SEO company through doing local searches. Apparently, even in the Internet Age, people still prefer to shop locally. Many will jump online and go to their favorite search engine, type in the keyword phrase they’re looking for and append the city, state or region for their searches.

If you have a company that only serves the local market, then you would do well to be found for local searches. For instance, if you have a doctor’s office or a dentist’s office or perhaps even own a land-based business such as Pocono Real Estate & Mountain Homes that serves a small region in Northeastern Pennsylvania, then you would do well to do the type of Internet marketing that will pull in local traffic.

If you’re looking to pull in local customers through the Internet, the first thing you need to do is search engine optimize your website for your local keywords. After the title tag, meta tags and body text are optimized for you local market, then you need to conduct a link-building campaign targeting your local market as well. Regional information within the link’s anchor text will help here. Getting your site listed in some general business directories that list location will also help you tap into the local market. The same holds true for industry organization listings that list only members in your industry. Lastly, get your website linked upon some other local websites and directories covering the same region that your business covers.

Make your business THE business in your region that people will find when doing an Internet search. This gives your website credibility as a major player online and offline as well. Remember, if you have a locals-only business, then thinking locally upon the global Internet will pay many dividends that you hadn’t even anticipated.

May 112005
 

Yahoo! Says, “I Got The Music In Me.”

Napster and iPod beware. Yahoo! has just rolled out Yahoo Music Unlimited with pricing that undercuts the market by one-third. While Napster charges $14.95 per month for unlimited access to it’s music catalog, Yahoo Music Unlimited is charges just $4.99 per month. This price includes access to over 1,000,000 song titles delivered from the four major record labels plus many independents as well.

When users sign up for service, they will download the free Yahoo Music Engine. According to Yahoo, this music search engine will let users play, manage, discover, rip, burn and create playlists. Users can also transfer music to compatible players made by Rio, Sony, Phillips and Zen.

Now here’s the rub. Yahoo Music Unlimited is based on Microsoft’s Janus technology. Janus-compatible players have not penetrated the market yet, so there will be some growing pains is this regard. But, when users realize that they are continuing to pay 3 times the price for iTunes on their iPods, there may just be a bit of a mutiny to get to the new Janus-compatible players.

Yahoo! has decided to roll out its new Yahoo Music Unlimited in a big way. Now make way for the hottest new method for music downloads since Napster began in 1999. Sometimes it comes full circle, doesn’t it?

May 092005
 

Google has introduced its new Web Accelerator beta, which is supposed to “help web pages show up in a snap.” Designed for DSL and Cable users, this new product is supposed to make results appear even more quickly. Sorry, 56K modem users.

Unfortunately, the beta has now been closed to the public. This posting appears on the Google site, “Thank you for your interest in Google Web Accelerator. We have currently reached our maximum capacity of users and are actively working to increase the number of users we can support.” Now, this could be taken at face value or mean any number of things including some buggy-ness or potential security problems involving the display of private password-protected pages as have been previously reported. Anytime Google introduces any new product, a controversy is sure to follow and this is no different. This will all shake out, though.

No matter what, it is good to see Google taking steps to make the user’s experience a faster one. If “Home Improvement” host Tim Allen were an Internet junkie, he would relish the faster experience that Google is delivering with a grunt and some verbiage like “more power, more speed.”

Once the controversy is resolved and the bugs are worked out, it will be interesting to see if the new Google Web Accelerator picks up speed or simply coasts to the shoulder and calls for road service.