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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.

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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.

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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.

Google
Yahoo
MSN

Google
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

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.

MSN

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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 scott@stepforth.com and I will see what I can do to assist!

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Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Future Evolution of Search

The search engine world never rests. As online marketing professionals discover new ways to obtain top rankings the algorithms evolve right along side. There are two primary reasons behind the updating of ranking algorithms. To increase the quality and relevancy of the results, and to decrease the many page of online spam. Read more…

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Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Google Sun?

First there was Google Earth, Then Google Moon, now Google Sun? Robyn Beavers announced on the Google Blog Monday that soon Google will be installing 1.6 megawatts of solar panels at their Mountain View campus. When complete Google will have the largest corporate solar installation in the US and possibly even in the world.

The electricity generated by these solar panels is equivalent to that used by about 1000 average California homes and will offset roughly 30% of their peak electricity consumption.

Good job Google on working towards a greener environment.

Yahoo will be introducing the new sponsored search soon and with it Yahoo wants their advertisers to know about a few structural changes about to take place. In their latest monthly edition of “On Target”, Yahoo noted a few key points advertisers should know about.

1. Account upgrades are expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 2006. At this time some of the account terminology will be changed.

2. Listings will now be known as ‘Ads’ and will be joined into Ad Groups (not to be confused with Google AdGroups). This will allow for bidding based on the entire group, or by individual keyword.

3. Categories will now be known as ‘Campaigns’ which will consist of one or more ‘Ad Groups’. (This is starting to sound a lot like the AdWords setup.)

Once Yahoo has implemented the new structure all current categories will be moved into campaigns automatically. However it is advised that if you have not already done so ensure your current listings are added into appropriate categories. This is not required, but this extra step may help you with organizing your account after the switch over.

All in all the account upgrades are likely to make life easier and more structured. The one thing I wonder about is why it has taken so long to have them implemented. The changes have been in the works for a while now and it will be nice to see them in place. Hopefully they meet their projected Q4 deadline.

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