Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Google / NASA Partnership

A research and development partnership between NASA and Google was announced back in September of 2005, and now, more than a year later, they are just about ready to collaborate.

The two companies will work together through their formal agreement to study a number of issues from scientific-data search technology to expanding Google Earth to the moon and Mars.

According to CNET ” the first collaboration between Google and NASA Ames will concern the availability of NASA information over the Internet. For example, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in a statement that “soon” there will be Google Earth flyovers available for the surfaces of Mars and the moon. Additional data will include real-time weather forecasting and visualization, as well as tracking of the International Space Station and space shuttle activity”.

Not all projects will involve incorporating NASA information into Google but will include a number of research based items such as dealing with human-computer interaction and education-related collaborations.

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Hacker Sentenced Cinched by Searches

According to ZDNet, something interesting has occurred. A hacker taping into wireless internet connections and disrupting service has been sentenced to 15 months in prison, nearly $20,000 in restitution, and 3 years of supervised released. What makes this story interesting is the actual nail in his coffin so to speak. Read more…

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Microsoft Book Search Beta

Following in the steps of Google, Microsoft has launched a Beta version of its non-copyright book search. Live Book Search doesn’t look like much, and when visiting the site there are no immediate indications that there is anything different here than the regular live search, but performing a search will reveal book results, and a change in the title tag to “Live Search Books: ”

The new Live Book Search will include more than 25 million pages from the British Library which had received funding from Microsoft to transfer the out of copyright material into digital format. It will also include collections scanned from the University of California as well as the University of Toronto.

Sometime next year these book search results will be integrated into the regular windows live search results after the beta period has ended. Book search will also be integrated as a category in the main Live search engine.

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Click-Fraudster Case Dropped by Google

Back in March of 2004 we reported on a man arrested for trying to extort Google. Last month, in order to protect its trade secrets Google has dropped its case against Michael Anthony Bradley. Bradley had attempted to extort $150,000 from Google by threatening the generation of millions of fraudulent clicks by using his ‘Google Clique’ software.

The case would result in the exposure of Google trade secrets and the risk of this information finding its way into the hands of potential future fraudsters. These “anti-fraud” secrets being exposed could cause a decline in advertiser confidence in Google’s system and has caused Google to reconsider the case.

This decision does mean that Bradley will get away with his extortion attempt, but may also be the best move for Google’s future with paid search. Not only would revealing their secrets open things up for future fraud attempts, but it would also expose their system to competitors.

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Ask Goes Local

On Monday Ask launched a local search service that strongly competes with other existing services offered by the big 3.

AskCity allows users to search for businesses, events, movies, and maps with directions. This service has integrated a number of those owned by parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp including CitySearch, ReserveAmerica, ServiceMagic, Ticketmaster and TicketWeb. Ask has also incorporated services from IAC partners.

Many of the new services from AskCity are also similiar to those offered by Google, MSN and Yahoo; however, the big three have to sign partnerships with other companies in order to provide these services.

In the big scheme of things local search is still in its infant stages, but as the internet continues to grow and evolve the world of local search will continue to grow as more and more people allow the internet into their lives.

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Google, Yahoo and MSN Market Share

Danny Sullivan recently posted the latest search engine market share stats in the SearchEngineWatch Blog . The order of the big three, has without much surprise, remained the same with Google the clear leader followed by Yahoo, then MSN.


Since this time last year Google has seen a noticeable increase in their
overall market share as they continue to grow in popularity. Its a slow
and steady climb with no apparent end in sight. With the launch of new
tools and features and the recent acquisition of YouTube, its ever increasing
online presence is likely a leading contributor to this consistent rise
in market share.


Yahoo remains in the middle. Having had some dips over the past 12 months
they have risen slightly according to NetRatings and dropped slightly
with comScore; however, overall, they have remained fairly static. This
is not necessarily a bad thing as it does show stability over the long
term and retention of return users. It will be interesting to see if by
this time in 2007 they remain flat or if an increase in market share will
be seen.


Since this time last year Microsoft has seen dips across the board and
is now at its lowest point in the last 12 months. Currently hovering around
the 10% mark it falls in third place and while 10% may sound low when
considering the vastly increasing number of people performing searches,
that figure still represents a significant piece of the pie. Certainly
MSN would like to be higher, and with the launch of the new Windows Live,
probably expected an increased share, but many people are afraid of change,
and they just may have scared off some of their loyal users. That said,
I would personally expect Windows Live, as it is further refined, to help
MSN over the next 12 months.

What does all this mean for website owners? What it really comes down
to is, yes you will get the most traffic by ranking #1 in Google, but
you should not discount Yahoo and MSN, as they can still deliver a substantial
number of visitors to your site. General optimization and responsible
link building campaigns will help out with all three engines. Stay away
from anything that looks fishy, continue to build quality content and
incoming links, and keep your pages well optimized and you will stand
the best chance of success.

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Yahoo Search Marketing Bidding Changes

This change has been forthcoming for some time now. The new Yahoo Search Marketing
platform is available for some who have been chosen for early release, and for the rest, the new year will see the complete rollover into the new system. At the beginning of December, however, we will see the launch of the new bidding system at YSM and some recent changes to how you will manage your bidding. So what exactly is changing?

Top 5 Max Bids and Your Position

The current bids for the top 5 paid placements will be removed along with the your position column. Read more…

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

No More Answers

After 4 years of Q and A Google Answers is being retired and as of late this week they will no longer be accepting new questions.

Google Answers was first introduced back in 2002 by a small 4 person team based on a rough idea by Larry Page. Within 4 months of inception the product was launched in beta and answered some of the most important questions of all time such as why there is no channel 1 and how flies can survive in the microwave .

While new questions will no longer be accepted after this week, Google Answers will continue to accept answers to existing questions until the end of the year. The Questions and Answers will also remain online for the foreseeable future.

Google Answers is a paid service to help searchers find answers to questions. While Google and the other search engines can provide information on just about anything, even for experienced users it can sometimes be difficult to find just the right piece of information. Google Answers allows you to post a question, and for a fee, have an expert researcher provide you with just the right answer.

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Google Shares break $500

For the first time Google shares have broken the $500 mark and Wednesday morning saw an opening at $510.78. These figures give 8 year old Google a market value of approximately $154 billion. When they priced its IPO back in August 2004, the value per share was $85 and after the first day of trading it broke the $100 milestone.

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

PPC Campaign Assistance

I recently had a conversation with a client who was having some difficulties with his Google AdWords account. This client had then made some changes to financial settings and had resulted in significant charges beyond what was anticipated. In this example, the date range being displayed on the reports was set to a range which made it difficult to see the charges being accrued.

I spent some time working things through with the client which ultimately resulted in the effect on the account being originally sought after.

While managing PPC campaigns is an additional service offered by StepForth, for existing clients I am happy to answer any questions to try and help. For extensive issues we may require a PPC contract, but in many cases I will likely be able to simply answer your questions to help get things on track.

If you have any PPC related questions, please feel free to drop me a note at and I will see what I can do to assist!