The spring of 2009 will see the grand opening of a new $600 million data center for Google in Council Bluffs Iowa. News was announced yesterday by Gov. Chet Culver and Google in Council Bluffs.

This announcement comes just 6 weeks after an announcement for a $600 million data center in Pryor Creek OK, expected to open a year sooner in Spring of 2008.

Three parcels of land totaling 1185 acres will be used to house the massive project including two facilities, and once completed it is estimated that Google will employ 200 workers at the new location.

With all these new expansions one must wonder, is Google simply beefing up its current infrastructure, or are there plans for something bigger in the future? Only time will tell.

According to the Globe and Mail, Microsoft has taken a step back and will now allow for third party search applications to be used in the new Windows Vista operating system.

Microsoft’s decision came a week before a government review of Microsoft’s 2002 antitrust settlement compliance demanding the use of such third party apps. Read more…

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Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

How Safe is Your Search?

Roughly 4 percent of all search results display links to potentially dangerous websites, according to a report published by McAfee’s SiteAdvisor, on Monday. The report notes that Yahoo results are the riskiest with AOL leading the pack as having the safest results.

Over the past year, both organic and sponsored links have seen an increase in safety, however, the biggest change is seen within sponsored listings. On average the number of risky links declined from 8.5% in May 2006, to 6.9% in May of this year. Organic results saw a drop from 3.1% down to 2.9%. Read more…

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Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Yahoo's Quality Based Pricing

The new quality based pricing system being rolled out by Yahoo will allow advertisers to enjoy reduced click charges based on ad relevance and quality.

Yahoo announced in a mass mail out yesterday the launch of Quality Based Pricing. Discounts will be automatically applied to an advertisers account based on conversion rates and other measures. The roll out of the system has already begun as of yesterday.

There is nothing you need to do to receive this discount, simply continue creating quality relevant ads for your campaign, and assuming the quality is high enough you will start to see some reduced costs.

For more information visit the Yahoo Search Marketing Help page for Quality Based Pricing.

Google image searches can be further refined thanks to a hidden feature few knew about – until this week.

A blog post by Ionut Alex Chitu has shown that by adding a simple piece of code to the end of your Google image search, can be used to refine the results. Adding “&imgtype=face” to the end of the search URL string will refine the list of images with just those of faces.

Wired blogger Adario Strange posted today that he had taken this search to the next level by replacing the word “face” with “hands” during an image search for PBS television host “Charlie Rose”. Strange notes images of Roses hands appearing, however, I was unable to duplicate these results.

This kind of image and face recognition is in its infant stages and it will be interesting to see how far Google goes, and when they will in fact release this technology openly within image searches.

Its scary to think that perhaps some day, armed only with a photo of someone, a user may be able to use the uploaded image to do a name look up and background search. While the technology (at least as far as I know) is not advanced enough to do such a thing, it is certainly within the realm of possibility.

If you are currently using long descriptions for your Yahoo Ads, be warned that effective this June, the short description option will be the only way to go.

Until end of day today, advertisers have had two options for ad copy; short descriptions utilizing a 70 character limit, and long descriptions providing up to 190 characters. As of June 2007, long descriptions will be eliminated, and those who are unprepared will see their ad copy truncated with an ellipsis. Read more…

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Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Panama Launches in Europe

The US and Canada have had access to the new Panama platform for some time and now advertisers in Europe are able to use the new version, just launched this week.

There have been many comments on the new system on both the positive and negative side of things, but hopefully most of the initial issues that plagued US users have been corrected in time for this launch.

When it first launched in North America, Panama caused chaos for some advertisers when the transition saw ad campaigns completely shuffled about. Some key phrases were lost, where others were moved into different groups and some groups disappeared entirely. While not everyone had issues with the account switch, there was plenty to be said in the forums regarding the changeover. (see “Yahoo Panama Pros and Cons, and Part 2“)

Hopefully Europe will see a smoother transition into the new system with the correction of some of the known bugs. Currently, Google has approximately 70-80% market share for search in Europe.

In a press release issued by Microsoft Tuesday, the announcement of the first commercially available surface computer was made.

Expected to be released late this year, Surface will first appear in places like Casinos and hotels.

“With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology,” Ballmer said. “We see this as a multibillion dollar category, and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror. Surface is the first step in realizing that vision.”

Read more…

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Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

The Weight of the Internet

Recently when traveling on the ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver BC, I picked up the June 2007 issue of Discover Magazine. In this issue there was one article that I found particularly interesting. On page 42, “How Much Does the Internet Weigh”?. The article attempts to put an actual physical weight on the data being transferred over the internet on an average day.

The article in many places is far too technical and scientific for me to truly understand, but the basis for the theory is that every bit of data sent via voltages in electronic circuits has some level of mass, albeit minuscule. There is an incredible amount of data sent across the internet on any given day so there must be a measurable figure of weight. Read more…

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Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Google and the "www" Issue

It would appear as if both www and non-www versions of websites are no longer being treated by Google as separate pages, at least where Page Rank is concerned.

We know that the visible PR in the tool bars is only a loose indication of a site’s actual PR, but it can still be frustrating when you see a low PR for the non-www version, and a higher PR for domains with the www. Recently we have noticed that the PR displayed is now the same for both versions.

I have checked out a few sites where I know the non-www version was displaying a lower PR, and now all are equal. This is certainly a good thing as it is likely a step in the right direction where having both versions will not present any duplicate content issues.

Until such time that duplicate content is no longer a potential hazard, it is still highly recommended to use mod rewrites to permanently 301 redirect traffic to one version of your site. This will eliminate the duplicate content concerns when pertaining to www issues. If you currently use a Google Webmasters account, we also recommend you select the preferred domain to have the site displayed the way you want. For more details on how to play it safe and consolidate www and non-www links here is a tutorial published exclusively at WilsonWeb.com and written by Ross Dunn.

In virtually all situations sites which are visible with both the www and non-www versions are not attempting anything fishy, so it only makes sense that Google should treat both versions as the same URL.