Friday, February 8th, 2008

Google Introduces Social Graph API

Last week Google introduced the Google Social Graph API, a new application programming interface to allow wed developers to make better use of relationship data for social networking sites.

The new API will have a number of practical applications, with one possibility being the integration of a button to allow users to easily add friends.

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Ask Expands Skin Ability

Ask LogoLast year Ask launched Ask3d, and with it came the ability to customize your interface with a collection of skins. I personally have never customized a search engine interface using skins, but can certainly see the appeal it may bring to some web users.

Since it began allowing skins, Ask has received many requests for the ability to upload custom skins, and now they have included this feature.

Ask’s Official Blog has step by step instructions on how to customize your search using skins. I suspect that while this feature will appeal to many existing Ask users, it is probably unlikely to pull users from other engines to increase their market share. Nevertheless, it is nice to see a search engine that actually listens to its users.

The rumors have been flying around for some time now over whether or not Microsoft will put in an offer for search Giant Yahoo. Many have speculated over the past few months as to if Microsoft would try for an acquisition, and if so, how much was it worth to them.

This morning all speculation came to an end when Microsoft unexpectantly waved $44.6 Billion under Yahoo’s nose. Shortly after the announcement Yahoo Shares rose sharply by more than 50%, while Google shares took another 8% drop down to 515.90 by close of day Friday.

The latest acquisition attempt, and what would be one of the largest in history, would put Microsoft in a position to actually compete with distant leader Google.

In a conference call this morning Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer stated:

“This is a decision we have – and I have – thought long and hard about,” Ballmer said. “We are confident it’s the right path for Microsoft and Yahoo.”

Last year Microsoft purchased online ad service aQuantive for a stagger $6 Billion – petty cash compared the offer currently on the table for Yahoo.

Last year Microsoft was negotiating to purchase yahoo (see Microsoft Buy Yahoo? Yes Please!) And at that time the Wall Street Journal had estimated Yahoo’s value at around $50 Billion.

Will the deal go though this time? It would certainly stir things up and make life a little more interesting for us SEO folks – If the past is any indication of the future, then this deal may just fizzle out, but with Yahoos recent layoff announcement, and lower than expected fourth quarter earnings, this just may be there way out.

(on a completely “conspiracy theory” type level, perhaps Yahoo just paid off Microsoft under the table to stage a fake offer in order to drive Yahoo shares up? Do I believe this – well no, but I was recently reading about some famous historical publicity stunts, so this theory came to mind and I wanted to share it)

Friday, February 1st, 2008

Yahoo Cuts 1000 Jobs

According to the New York Times, in an effort to invest in its future, Yahoo will cut 1000 jobs, making it the largest internet layoff since the big dot-com bust. They did not specify which departments will be cut back.

Yahoo’s fourth quarter (2007) net income fell to $206 million, down from $269 million for the same period in 2006. After the announcement Tuesday, Yahoos stock fell by nearly 10 percent in after-hours trading.

Yahoo currently has approximately 14,300 employees. The job cuts are expected to take place by mid February of this year.

Yesterday Danny Sullivan published an article over at Search Engine Land discussing Google Universal Search. In his article he discusses how Universal Search has evolved in the short time since it debuted last year.

Today Universal Search results are displayed based mostly on relevance and blended in with the natural search results. While it is very common for news, images, and other vertical search results to be displayed at the top of the page, more and more cases are being found with these being injected, or blended, right into the midst of things (for example in the #4 or #5 position, based entirely on relevance).

Universal Search does not only display results based on Google news, but also looks at videos, images, maps, and other search relevant results from Google’s various vertical search listings.

Danny goes into significant detail in outlining various examples including screen shots, showing how Local, Image, News, and Video results are blended into the normal results pages. While today we are seeing many of these verticals blended in, Video search is the most consistent. This is no surprise given that Video is appearing everywhere these days, and accounts for a large part of total internet uses (an estimated 3 billion video’s were watched in November on Google properties alone).

If you are interested in how Universal search has, and will continue to evolve over at Google, be sure to catch Danny’s Article, Google Universal Search: 2008 Edition.

As a staple toy for just about every child, Lego has turned 50 today, and Google is celebrating with a Google Lego Logo.

On Jan 28, 1958 in Copenhagen Denmark, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen submitted a patent for his invention which would eventually be called the Toy of the Century. Since then, more than 400 million children and adults play with their Lego totaling an estimated 5 billion hours each year.

I for one grew up with a large bucket of Lego and still on occasion bring it out and play once in a while, hoping that my upcoming child will want to do the same – I’m sure he/she will.

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Google Shares Down more than 20%

On Dec 26, 2007 Google shares closed at $710.84. Today one short month later, Jan 25, 2008, Google closed at $566.40. That is huge drop, more than 20% over a one month period, and I am sure some investors are feeling the pinch on this one. Back in November Google peaked at around $741 – I feel sorry for anyone who bought on that day.

I am no financial expert – in fact far from it, but I am pretty sure this is bad. That said, they will recover and break back into the $700+ range – right? I would be surprised if they didn’t, although I have been surprised before.

These days, as more and more companies come to the conclusion that their 1990’s built websites with the animated gifs, static backgrounds, and auto-playing midi files have seen their prime, they begin to enter into a world of redesign. While creating these new websites with the sleeker look, and cleaner file structure is a smart move for the future, the risk and complications caused by changing URL’s and the impact this has on search engine rankings is very real.

This is where redirects come in. Using the correct redirect, in most cases a permanent 301, is key to helping maintain your existing rankings, whether your site is undergoing a complete face lift, or if you simply want to move a few pages around.

While Permanent 301 Redirects are the most common there are valid situations where either 301’s or 302’s may be the most appropriate. This article will discuss what these redirects do, common and less common uses, implementation, and how to check that you have set them up correctly Read more…

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Google Answers Question on First Try!

Today something exciting happened to me. Google replied to an email I sent them. Not only did they reply, but the response I got was exactly what I was looking for – you see, they read my question, and actually answered it!

This is a first for me, as the first response I always get is some auto-generated form response that doesn’t come close to addressing the original question. After several days of email tag, the question is eventually answered.

The problem with this response I got was that it isn’t really the answer I was hoping for.

We all know that Google does not allow the same keyword to be live in more than one AdGroup or Campaign. This is common sense because if they did, you could essentially have multiple ads appearing at the same time under the same search.

But what happens if you throw in the wrench of having each of these unique campaigns target different geographic areas? In my mind this should work – unsure I thought I would check with Google before putting in the time to set everything up.

My Question:

“I may be setting up a new account in the coming weeks that will target 12 different geographic locations.

Essentially I will be creating 12 campaigns, one for each specific geographic location. The Ads will all be similar, with the main differences being the geographic location mentioned in the ad. Each of the 12 campaigns and their corresponding AdGroups will target the same Keyword set.

Will this work?”

Their Answer:

“…As you are aware if you have the same keywords across multiple campaigns, in
this case twelve, only one ad (the better performing one) from the twelve campaigns will show. Hence, setting twelve campaigns each with a unique geographical location and having the same keywords will not be feasible…”

In short, it won’t work. Perhaps this little adjustment to the AdWords system would make perfect sense, and may even happen some day – but I’m not holding my breath. I will happily give credit where credit is due – Thank you Genevieve for actually reading my question and answering it without simply pulling a response from your database.

Have you ever come across a blog, forum, or other interactive site where you only wanted to post a single comment and then move on, only to be forced into registering and providing all your info, and finally saying, forget it?

Yahoo would like to put an end to this through the use of OpenID according to a TimesOnline report Thursday. OpenID is a system that allows internet users the ability to use a single login across multiple websites.

OpenID has been around for a while now and currently has more than 130 million subscribers, but to date, none of the biggest web properties have embraced its services.

“Raj Mata, director of memberships at Yahoo!, said: “This is another step forward for the open web. It is a hassle for users to have to log in to different sites. Often you have to register an account with a site – which you won’t remember – just to post a comment. We think this reduces the barrier to entry.”

While I for one can see the massive benefits of a single log in system giving access to all your favorite sites, I can also see the potential security nightmare. It doesn’t take a programmer or security expert to know that a system like this is probably not without its holes, especially if used on a wide scale.

“The whole thing is fantastically dangerous until you can introduce cryptographic methods which ensure that the whole procedure is not phishable,” Ben Laurie, an independent security expert, said.

While Yahoo noted that all relevant security issues have been addressed with the latest version of the OpenID protocol, time will tell if the initiative will be a success.