Google, Yahoo, and others are already there, and now Microsoft has decided to follow the leader with the launch of Mobile Display Ads.

On Tuesday Microsoft Announced it had opened the doors for advertisers to display banner ads directly to Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail mobile users.

Microsoft also rolled out its beta for keyword based advertising using Live Search Mobile, to be expanded in the second half of 2008. A select group of “invited advertisers can create keyword campaigns through Microsoft adCenter that target customers on the go. This will be the first time that Microsoft has enabled advertisers to monetize its popular mobile search service.”

Mobile advertising and search is still in its very early stages and, in keeping with tradition, Microsoft has followed behind Google and Yahoo. If they ever hope to boost their market share and better compete with the two leaders, Microsoft should really try launching initiatives like this first rather then constantly playing catch-up.

The service is currently available to advertisers in France, Spain, the UK, and the US. As keeping with the trend of new web developments, Canada is still left out in the cold.

Avid users of Google Earth will now find a new layer added to the unique mapping system. Google News has recently been incorporated allowing users to see regional news related to the specific areas they are viewing.

For some time now the ability to find geo-tagged photos within Google Earth has been available, and it only makes sense that geographic news stories would also be made integrated into the service.

If you are interested in activating the Google News layer “navigate to the “Layers” menu on the left-hand side of Google Earth. Expanding the “Gallery” node in the layers tree will expose the “Google News” layer. Check the box next to the Google News layer and start zooming into the places on the globe in which you’re interested. Each story is represented by a Google News icon on the globe. Clicking on the news icon opens up the news story’s snippet, along with links to learn more about the event.”

The launch of the new feature was announced Tuesday morning by Project Manager Brandon Badger on Google’s Lat Long Blog.

Microsoft offered a sneak peak back in February, and as of Tuesday the public beta of WorldWide Telescope has been made available, according to a Press Release issued by Microsoft.

The online virtual telescope has been created in response to Google’s launch of Google Sky a few years ago, and takes things to the next level with a huge database of high resolution images from various stars, galaxies, and other non-earthly entities. Ray Gould spoke about WorldWide Telescope back in February and noted that some of “the best images from the worlds greatest telescopes from earth and in space are woven them seamlessly to produce a holistic view of the Universe.”

“The WorldWide Telescope is a powerful tool for science and education that makes it possible for everyone to explore the universe,” said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. “By combining terabytes of incredible imagery and data with easy-to-use software for viewing and moving through all that information, the WorldWide Telescope opens the door to new ways to see and experience the wonders of space. Our hope is that it will inspire young people to explore astronomy and science, and help researchers in their quest to better understand the universe.”

WorldWide Telescope, Much like Google’s Earth & Sky products, is offered free and is currently available for download. While the user interface is quite different, the overall experience is very similar. WorldWide Telescope has a more modern and sleek interface than Google Sky, but in the end both have about the same to offer.

I prefer the Microsoft interface with easy graphic thumbnails to take you directly to the celestial body. Personally I find that this new beta release offers a higher level visual experience, which is why I would likely turn to it in the future.

The social web is rapidly growing and Google is trying to tap into this massive industry with the launch of Friend Connect. Released in a limited preview, Friend Connect allows web site owners to incorporate a number of gadgets to their site in an effort to improve the overall user experience.

Friend Connect helps webmasters make their websites more appealing, engage users, and help increase the average time on site. Incorporating a number of available social features is made easy, and does not require any programming skills whatsoever.

Webmasters select from a list of Google and Member gadgets, choose their colors and other options, and then simply cut and paste the code directly to their site.

When your site visitors opt in to use Friend Connect within your site, when they enter a review, post photos, or interact with your gadgets, notices are posted within their friends various social media accounts which can attract them to visit your site.

Currently Friend Connect is available only in a preview release, with select sites being accepted. If you are interested in participating, fill out the application form and cross your fingers that Google will accept you.

Over the past few weeks I have received a few questions regarding my 3 part series on How to Optimize for Google. This post will answer a few of the questions I have received.

Do hyperlinked images count as back links? Which scores higher, text or image links?

Yes, Google does count hyperlinked images, however, to get the most out of imaged based links it is best to have relevant, preferably keyword-rich, alt text tagged onto the image.

As far as which scores higher, for the most part they are equal, assuming that the image has the appropriate alt text. In some cases a text based link may actually pass on a little more value if it is located within a highly relevant paragraph as an in-line link. Read more…

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Yahoo's 1st Quarter of 2008

In the first quarter of 2008 earnings are up, employees are down, Microsoft started its attempts at a takeover, and Yahoo still found time to get into bed with Google (although the U.S. Justice Department is still out on that one).

(Note: this posting was originally aired in this week’s StepForth Weekly Newsletter)

First quarter earnings for Yahoo were higher than most experts had predicted. Sales rose by 9 percent to $1.8 billion, with an increase in net income by a sizable 282% to $542 million, compared with $142 Million for the same period in 2007. These profits were largely in thanks to Yahoo’s investment in the initial public offering of which accounted for $401 million. Read more…

In Part 1 and Part 2 of How to Optimize for Google I discussed general website optimization, links, and Google webmaster tools. In Part 3 we will look at a number of other considerations which play a role in successful rankings in Google, and also touch on some tactics which are best avoided. Read more…

Optimizing for top Google rankings includes a number of factors. In Part 1 of 3 we discussed onsite optimization. In Part 2 we will touch on incoming links as well as using Google Webmaster Tools.

Links are very important in today’s Google rankings, but just how many links you need will depend on both the competitiveness of your target phrases, and the quality of the incoming links themselves.

Essentially the number one rule of links is to keep it relevant! Topical relevance is very important in order for inbound links to give your site the most value. If the page that links to you is relevant that is good, if the entire site linking to you is relevant, that is better.

First to get an idea of how many links you may need, take a look at the top 10 ranking sites in Google and record how many links Yahoo is noting for each site. (This is because Google does not display anywhere near all the links they have noted). The average of this count is often a good indication of how many links your site may need. Read more…

In today’s online world search engine rankings can make your business succeed, and while rankings in Yahoo and MSN are very valuable, their combined market value is still less than that of Google. This makes achieving top rankings in Google that much more important.

In this three-part series on How to Optimize for Google we will touch on a number of important aspects for top Google rankings including website optimization, links, Google Webmaster tools, and a number of other considerations.

The focus of Part 1 will be with on page website optimization. If you have already read this, check out Part 2 and Part 3 of How to Optimize for Google Read more…

What would you do if you suddenly found your private residence plastered over Google Street View, along with photos of your yard, pool, and other private property? Well, this very thing has happened to Christine and Aaron Boring, and they have since filed a lawsuit against Google.

According to The Smoking Gun, when one of the vehicles shooting photos for the mapping service made a wrong turn up a 50 foot private driveway, it also continued snapping photos and those photos made it onto the live version of Google Street View.

Google spokesman Larry Yu told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “There is no merit to this action. It is unfortunate litigation was chosen to address the concern because we have visible tools, such as a You Tube video, to help people learn about imagery removal and an easy-to-use process to facilitate image removal.”

The Boring’s are seeking “in excess of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars for compensatory, incidental, and consequential damages, punitive damages, costs, all allowable attorneys’ fees, and all other damages deemed to be just,”

Another home owned by Janet and George McKee also found its way onto Google Street View. This series of photos is far more intrusive, as the vehicle had to drive up a long winding driveway to approach the house. No word yet on whether or not the McKee’s will also be filing suit. More info and photos on this instance can also be seen at The Smoking Gun.

The “Boring” photos have since been removed from Street View, however, the Mckee’s photos are apparently still listed. Searching Google Maps for the Boring’s Address (1567 Oakridge Lane, Pittsburgh, PA 15237), and doing a fair bit of scrolling to the West, you will eventually find their photos have been blacked out and removed from Google.