Gravatar
Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Google’s New Search Options

Earlier this year Google launched a side panel called “Search Options” which allows users to refine their search results. Yesterday they expanded the available options to include a number of new filters.

google-search-optionsNow when you perform a Google search, but clicking the “show options” link at the top left, you can filter your results with the following options:

Past Hour & Specific Date Range
This option will allow you to filter results based on a specific time period. Say you are researching some current events, by selecting the “past hour” you will remove any similar news stories from the past and be left with the freshest information at your fingertips. For instance, say you want information on the latest tsunami, a regular search for “tsunami” displays Wikipedia’s definition of the word, and some info of the 2004 disaster, but by clicking “past 24 hours” the search results are entirely related to the events of the past few days.

More Shopping Sites & Fewer Shopping Sites
This tool is handy whether you are doing market research for a product or looking to actually order it. By increasing the number of shopping sites displayed, you can more easily locate an online retailer to purchase from; decreasing will show you more review and informational websites. Read more…

google-base-now-merchantThis Monday Google launched a new face for Google Base called Google Merchant Center which allows ecommerce businesses to upload product feeds to Google so individual products are searchable via Google Product Search (once known as Froogle).

I am not sure what drove the reasoning behind this transition but the new name definitely makes more sense to the average user. Google also removed the “beta” element of the Google Base logo which is another indication that Google Merchant Center is the polished edition of Google Base.

Here are the benefits of Google Merchant Center as noted on the brand spanking new home page:

google-merchant-center-benefitsAs far as I know there is no change in terms of the benefits offered using this service over Google Base except that Google claims it “should” be easier to use. That said, I don’t claim to be a Google Base expert by any means. If you have any input on this please feel free to comment and inform your fellow readers.

Is Google Base beta Completely Gone? No, Google has stated that there are still users that need to upload non-product data who will be using Google Base for now as it has some facilities that Google Merchant Center does not currently have. To quote Google’s blog post on the subject:

Google Base is still available for other types of structured content, but the Merchant Center provides a better, optimized experience specifically for product listings. The Merchant Center is where we’ll continue adding features and improving the tools for uploading and managing product listings.

That said, I expect Google Base will be phased out as soon as possible since the the new name “Google Merchant Center” does not preclude integrating the non-product submissions in the near future – and why bother having to maintain two merchant access points?

This Web Pro News video was taken at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose a few weeks ago and drives home some points about how to react to a perceived or actual Google penalty that I think are worth sharing to our audience. You can also see the full article on this subject that was the inspiration behind this video: How a Google Penalty Can Make Your Site Stronger.

This morning my daily routine was slightly interrupted. I logged into GTalk to say good morning to Ross, and all my contacts were mysteriously missing. I then checked my Gmail account, and all my contacts were gone there too (not surprising as the two are pretty much one in the same).

The first thing I did was put this out to the people of twitter, and I got a few responses that others are having the same issue.

So there we have it, Yet another Gmail outage… Hopefully it will be all up and running smoothly soon, this is a rather small inconvenience for me, but I imagine that there are vast numbers out there who are finding this to be a much more serious issue.

Will update this post as we learn more about what is going on.

Update  (10:10 PST):
Well wouldn’t you know it, literally moments after posting this story, all of my contacts had returned, and Gtalk and Gmail were functioning as normal.  It must have been my blog post that fixed it. ;-)

Gravatar
Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Google Addresses Duplicate Content Myths

I just came across this excellent post at WebProNews that brought to my attention a new video posted by the Google  Search Quality Team. The video discusses duplicate content on Google and how it is managed. The best part is it once again highlights that Google does not penalize for duplicate content – it merely omits content that is redundant within specific searches. In fact, content that may be omitted on one search may be highly ranked in another search.

Anyway, it is worth viewing for anyone who may still be concerned and/or confused about how Google handles duplicate content:

YouTube Preview Image

Google made a minor change to its interface on Wednesday which is notable only because, well, it is Google. What did they do? Well they stretched the home page search box and increased the size of the font for the search box. Not much to report really but the Wall Street Journal decided it was worthy of a remark when they posted the story along with several “snarky” remarks from fellow search engine writers who were very underwhelmed by the whole update.

The one, tiny take away from this? The WSJ article noted that Softpedia’s Lucian Parfeni thinks the changes could have something to do with the increase in searches on smaller screens due to the rise in netbook usage. I think he is right on the money there and I will add that Google could be catering to the aging baby boomer population (cough… Eric Schmidt… cough) that is bound to be finding the larger text a bit more comfortable :-)

google-interface-update

Gravatar
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Gmail Service Outage

Google spent much of the day today fighting problems over at Gmail, noting a service outage. As of the time of this writing Gmail was still down, and had been for several hours.

Gmail OutageOn their apps status dashboard they note that they expected a resolution for all users in the “near future”, followed by a note that this time frame was an estimate. What does an estimate of “near future” really mean? Does that mean that its possible that Gmail will still be down a week from now?

Its all pretty vague, and no word yet as to what has caused the outage. Apparently some users have had their access restored already, so it is expected that it wont be too long before services are fully restored for all.

PostScript: Only a few minutes after this posting, Gmail was back online for me (as of aproximately 2:30 PST). Is it still down for you? Please drop a comment and let us know.

Gravatar
Monday, August 31st, 2009

Android Bruises Apple in China

On Friday the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Apple signed a lucrative deal in China with China Unicom to sell (what I call) a censored version of the iPhone (it has WiFi removed for “security reasons”). The Chinese FlagThe deal will herald an impressive increase in Apple’s phone share but what should not be missed is that Android somehow flew under the radar despite signing a similar deal with China Mobile; a company with 3 times the subscribers of China Unicom! Something tells me that Android is going to take a way larger piece of the mobile pie than its competitors thought… silly competitors. They should know that since Google is involved it is going to do well – more likely than not.

The HTC Dream (AKA. the Google Phone)From a personal perspective I have the Gphone (HTC Dream – one of a few Android phone styles) and I love it; the benefits of many free apps and excellent integration with Google makes it very appealing to me. From that perspective also consider that the success of Android will inherently improve Google’s foothold on search which means great things for any who have top search engine rankings on Google.

BONUS: for those that don’t like being told what they can or cannot do with their phone you might appreciate Android’s success because it is an open source OS which is very unlike the iPhone’s totalitarian OS.

Gravatar
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

New Look for Yahoo Homepage

Yahoo search may soon be just an extension of Bing – this is not a given as of yet, but something that is looking very likely. All that said Yahoo is also not giving up.

Yahoo has recently launched a new look. While not active on the home page just yet the look is available for a sneak preview at m.www.yahoo.com, and at a first glance, it does look a bit cleaner and slightly less cluttered.

yahoo-mouse-overWhile I have not yet had a chance to fully explore the new features offered through the new Yahoo home page, the integration of video is a nice addition (although be sure not to mouse-over the extra thumbnails, or your video will stop – this really should require a click not a mouse-over, but I suppose little glitches like this are why this main page is not fully operational just yet.)

If you are a techy and interested in learning just what went into creating the new Yahoo home page be sure to check out the following video. (here is a link to the video at Yahoo Video, but they don’t currently offer the option to embed the clip, so we have turned to, none other than, Google owned YouTube)

Gravatar
Monday, August 17th, 2009

Google Leads in Mobile Search

In today’s daily chart from the Silicon Insider we get to see how well the top search properties are doing on PCs in contrast to Mobile. It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that Google has the lead in Mobile just as it does on PCs. It was interesting to note, however, that Yahoo is farther behind Google on Mobile than on PCs despite its highly touted mobile portal and tools.

Search engine marketshare by PC and Mobile