Sep 232005

Google has started to pilot a new quality program aimed at alerting webmasters when their websites are outside of Google’s guidelines. Matt Cutts, unofficial spokesman for Google, has an article on his blog outlining the new program.

The Google Quality Program for lack of a better name is aiming to inform webmasters about parts of their websites that they may not even be aware that are outside of the Google terms of service (TOS). A black hat SEO may have gotten a hold of their website and placed bogus pages or code on the website that the webmasters may not even know about.

For those who have had their websites drop suddenly in the rankings or drop out of Google’s index altogether and left wondering why, this may just be the ticket that some naive webmasters need to help them define the problem, so that they can track down and fix their sites. Cutt’s site also offers some tips for re-inclusion for those who have been dropped from Google.

Anyway, it’s good to know that Google is taking a customer-friendly approach in helping webmasters. It makes good sense and good public relations to give webmasters the benefit of the doubt and help those with legitimate websites who erringly hired the wrong person or company to get back into the Google index. Two thumbs up for a customer-friendly approach.

Sep 072005

Millions of people outside the United States Gulf Coast have been glued to their television sets watching the Hurricane Katrina coverage. Millions also have turned to CNN as their source for coverage.

What has been striking besides the immense devastation and rescue efforts is that CNN, at times, uses Google Maps to show satellite views of the affected areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. This was especially true directly after Katrina passed over and those in the news media were trying to assess damages.

The digital satellite photos from Google Maps showed water within the city where water should not be and a vacancy on the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River where ships and boats should be.

For the Katrina disaster, Google has set up a special link on the Google Maps page just for Katrina with satellite views that the general public can observe as well. If you do a search for ‘New Orleans’ a red button for Katrina will appear. This link gives a clear satellite view of the destruction right downtown. The Satellite button also gives an expanded view of the region and the Hybrid view fills in highway and street names.

It’s good to know that in times of crisis, the most trusted name in news can work with the world’s most popular search engine to deliver accurate information and keep the public informed.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “I am a firm believer in people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is, to bring them the real facts.”

Sep 022005

VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol is a hot new technology for making digital phone calls over the Internet and avoiding charges assigned by your local and long-distance phone companies. Google and Yahoo currently have their mitts in VoIP and now MSN is trying to get elbow deep in the new emerging technology as well.

It looks imminent now that the big search engines are going to go head-to-head with VoIP service providers such as Skype and Vonage along with the cable companies and even the Baby Bells such as Verizon and AT&T, which were slow to market and just now getting their feet wet in the VoIP money pond.

MSN has acquired a company named Teleo Inc., which will be incorporated into the MSN services infrastructure, such as MSN Messenger to allow free PC-to-PC calling. When Teleo first rolled out their beta in 2003, the software allowed customers to use their PC to make VoIP calls to cell phones, regular phone or PCs. Microsoft may also resume some of this same functionality in addition to providing new services.

Microsoft has made this move in order to compete with Google Talk, which is also an instant messenger / VOIP application useful for making free calls over the Internet. Another rival is Yahoo, which has supported VoIP through its messaging service for some time. Yahoo has also been making noise about bringing forth a separate application for making calls over the Internet.

So, just when you thought world domination was on the back burner, the Big 3 search engines vie with the other big players in VoIP, cable and local / long distance markets for a piece of the new, emerging telecom pie. It will be interesting in the months and years to come to watch how the players jockey for position in the VoIP Derby, estimated to be worth millions in cash and prizes.