Many search commentators have connected the rapid drop in Google’s share-values with their recent tussle with the US Department of Justice over its refusal to share search-records with the Government. As far as I can tell, the only thing connecting the two is the coincidence of timing.

As anyone with even a remote interest in search knows, the legal drama unfolding between Google and the DOJ fell out from the closet and into the public realm early last week, nearly a year after the DOJ initial request was complied with by Google’s rivals, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. Of the four major search engines in the United States, Google was the only one to resist the US Governments demand for information on searches conducted by its users.

Within days of the story breaking, Google share prices began to fall, showing a sustained decline for the first time since the search firm went public in August 2004. The sudden drop sent search journalists scurrying to their keyboards to make the unsubstantiated connection between the court case and the value of Google stocks.

What these commentators are neglecting to mention is that investors are becoming wary of the search sector, seeing the bulk of revenues coming from the single source of paid search advertising. Although Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing continue to shower shareholders with positive results, Yahoo’s most recent financial numbers, filed last week, just before the Google share drop started, came in one-cent below investor expectations.

The dust-up between Google and the US Department of Justice is very important and something all search engine users should pay very close attention to; however, it is not likely the root cause of the drop in investor confidence in the search sector. Perceived instability in the long-term business model is far more likely the reason investment management firms and the investors who rely on their advice appear bearish about Google this week.

Yesterday, the Bush Administration asked a federal judge to order Google to give the US Government access to approximately one week of recorded searches. Read more…

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Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Who's Got the Biggest Ego?

Mirror, Mirror, on the Web, Who has got the biggest head?

According to the egoSurf Top50 , I do, for the time being at least. I even appear to have a bigger syndicated ego than the truly great grandfather of search journalism, Danny Sullivan, though a slightly smaller one than someone named LawMoose.

egoSurf is a new vanity search/reputation management tool that allows you to check your placements on Google, Yahoo, del.icio.us, or Technorati in relation to the number of links back to your blog(s) or URL(s).

If a name is mentioned in, or associated with a piece of writing or a blog document, “ego points” are assigned to that name. The more verifiable references found, the more ego points scored. Apparently, my name is mentioned a number of times in a number of places, likely found by reading between the by-lines. My new found and totally befuddling big-headedness is entirely due to the nature of an environment that allows 2000 word musings to be instantly syndicated through live-feed RSS or human-edited copy/paste routines.

Writers will vanity surf much in the same way an actor will preen in all mirrors. Reputation management is part of the job. It is amazingly gratifying to confirm I do in fact, have a big ego, even if that knowledge is known to go straight to my head. (I’m gonna be mega fun to work with for the next few months eh?)

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Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Unified Theory of Google

If someone were to ask you to name the core business of General Motors, chances are you would naturally respond, “automobile manufacturing”. If that were your answer, you would be invited to join the 99% who also answered incorrectly. The correct answer is automobile purchase financing through General Motors Approved Credit, (GMAC). In reality, GM makes most of its money from interest payments it earns helping consumers purchase the vehicles it builds. Read more…

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Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

15 Shades of SEO Spam

Spam, in almost any form, is somehow bad for your health. The vast majority of web users would agree with that statement and nobody would even think of the finely processed luncheon meat-product made by Hormel. Even the word itself is infectious in all the worst ways, being used to describe the dark-side and often deceptive side of everything from Email marketing to abusive forum behaviour. In the search engine optimization field, Spam is used to describe techniques and tactics thought to be banned by search engines or to be unethical business practices. Read more…

An interesting thread for in-house SEOs appeared at the IHelpYou Forums this morning. “In-house SEO” is a term refering to an SEO who is employed by a non-search related company as a staff member in charge of website promotions. Read more…

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Friday, January 13th, 2006

Microsoft opens "AdLab" in Beijing

Microsoft announced the opening its adCenter Incubation Lab (AdLab), a state-of-the-art research center in Bejing earlier today. AdLab is a joint project between MSN’s developing paid-advertising program adCenter and Microsoft Research. According to a Microsoft statement, the AdLab’s mission is to, “… research and incubate advanced technologies for MSN’s adCenter, designed to provide advertisers with rich targeting capabilities based on audience intelligence information.”

One of the technologies AdLab will be focused on is video hyperlink ads. The company claims it will be able to “detect product items displayed on a television screen during a show or commercial then zoom into products featured on the television screen and click through to detailed product descriptions and information on where the products can be bought.”

“Until now, there is no way for the user to actually interact with these ads in the video,” said Microsoft data-mining analyst Li Li in an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

MSN is expected to release adCenter in the US in ealry June.

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Thursday, January 12th, 2006

Google Local + Research in Motion

As reported by Reuters,

Google and Research in Motion, (maker of the Blackberry mobile device), have announced an agreement that will put Google Local and Google Talk software on new Blackberry devices.

Google today released a software download, Local for Mobile, that enables Blackberry users to access its local business search, satellite mapping and route plotting services. Read more…

Reporters Without Boarders is a public interest group established to protect the right of reporters, journalists, and bloggers to witness and report on events.

It is calling on Internet users and bloggers to support six key proposals it issued last week “… aimed at ensuring that Internet-sector companies respect free expression when operating in repressive countries.” Read more…

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Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

SEO Tips In a Sea of Change

Advanced SEO 2006

Waves of change have cascaded over the search marketing sector in the past year prompting changes in the methods, business and practice of search engine optimization. Though many things have been altered, expanded or otherwise modified, the general search engine market share has not. Google remains the most popular search engine and continues to drive more traffic than the other search engines combined. Another thing that has not changed is the greater volume of site traffic generated by organic search placement over any other form on online advertising. Read more…