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Google is still down in many areas, one hour after we first noticed.  Oddly enough, some folks in our region (Pacific North West) can see Google while most can not.  We have also received reports from the Eastern Seaboard (USA) stating that some in Virginia can see Google while most others can’t.

The BBC website states that the cause of this outage is a varient on the My Doom virus.  We’ll continue monitoring and will post information as it comes in.

As of 10:15AM, Pacific Time, Google appears to be down.  We have tried visiting several of the International Google domains such as .CA, .CO.UK, and .DE but, when we try to run a search we get a page reading “Server Error”.  This has gone on for the past 20 minutes.

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Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

Yahoo Challenges Google

Yahoo’s Overture has picked up the Local Search gauntlet dropped by Google’s Adwords program in April. As Scott Van Achte writes this week, “Overture’s Local Match allows advertisers to promote their business regardless of weather or not they even have a website.” In this move, Yahoo is not only targeting Google’s Adwords program, they are also taking on the Yellow Pages. “It’s an important part of the search business,” said Overture spokesperson Gaude Paez. “Our own research, as well as the research of others, shows that many people who search for products buy them offline.” (quote from Jason Lopez NewsFactor Network article)

Localized search is one of the key features the major search engines are trying to perfect in order to present stronger competition to each other and other traditional listings services such as the aforementioned Yellow Pages.

In the organic listings, Yahoo is basing its localized results on the street address mentioned on a website while Google bases its localized results on the IP number of the computer conducting the search.

Google ADWORDS

In a recent Google mail out sent to AdWords advertisers, Google announced that over the next few days they will be introducing changes to their AdWords program in an attempt to increase the relevance of targeted ads and increase conversions.

Google’s improvements will give them the ability to more precisely identify the most relevant ads for a particular query, which in turn may result in more qualified traffic for some advertisers and less un-qualified for others. Read more…

Over the past seven years, it is fairly safe to say that the use of search engines has revolutionized our methods of finding and valuing information. Almost any activity involving research from personal travel planning to corporate business planning has been made far easier through the use of search engines. When one search tool or firm dominates as Google has for the past three years, it will get a lot more attention from the public and the media. Case in point, Google. Synonymous with search, Google has changed the world. For the most part, Google has made it a better place to live. That in itself justifies the intense scrutiny constantly focused at virtually every move made in the Googleplex. The fact they are changing rapidly further justifies the public and media interest and the hoopla. Read more…

Every few months it is a good idea to review SEO techniques in light of changes in the ranking algorithms used by the major search engines. As of today, there are only two major organic search tools we worry about, Google, and Yahoo. Both of these search tools look at different elements of your website when considering where to rank the site in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). While considered one of the “Big Three”, MSN continues to receive results from the Yahoo/Inktomi database with LookSmart listings being displayed from time to time. MSN is likely to release its own algorithmic search engine in the coming months. What works for Yahoo tends to work with MSN. Please note, these basic rules for rankings may change at any given moment. That’s one of the things that make this job so much fun… Read more…

If you are looking to spend some of your advertising dollars on Pay Per Click (PPC), but don’t care for the high prices of Google and Overture, you may want to take a look at some of the other PPC engines out there.

Many PPC Engines charge set up fees and have minimum click through rates of 5 and 10 cents, along with minimum monthly spends. For a small business on a limited budget testing the PPC waters, this may prove to be rather expensive. goClick offers no set up fees or minimum monthly spend, and click rates as low as a cent. Read more…

Google has two major legal problems plaguing them this month. If I was Google’s lead lawyer, I would approach the administration with a simple question… Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is that their first problem is not nearly as damaging as their second problem. That’s about where the good news stops.

Google, which has been in a SEC mandated “quite period” ahead of its pending IPO is being sued by a few large corporations for trademark infringement over its policy of allowing AdWords advertisers to bid on keywords containing the name of a competing company. For example, if Royal Tissue wanted to advertise their facial tissues, they could bid on the keyword “Kleenex”, which is a registered trademark of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation. The same can be said for Geico, the auto insurance company owned by Warren Buffet’s holding firm, Birkshire Hathaway. The major difference is that while the word “Kleenex” is almost synonymous with facial tissues, the word “Geico” is not necessarily synonymous with auto insurance. Nevertheless, both Google and Overture sold use of the word as a keyword to rival insurance companies. Now Geico is suing both search tools. Both Google and Overture (a division of Yahoo) make the vast majority of their revenues on the sale of paid-placement advertising. If Geico is successful in their suit, both Google and Overture will be forced to limit the scope of keywords websites can be advertised under.

The second suit on Google’s horizon is much more threatening and may make their IPO even riskier than it already appears to be. Overture is suing Google for infringing on their patented method of selling advertising based on bidding on keyword phrases. This practice is the basis of how Google’s main revenue generator, AdWords works. The suit, which was filed in April 2002 revolves around a patent filed in the spring of 1999 by GoTo.Com (Overture’s original name) for a, “system and method for influencing a position on a search result list.” The patent application details both the auction-bid system for determining placements, and the ability of advertisers to alter their bids and ads via a web-browser. The full patent was awarded by the US Patent office on July 31, 2001. About seven months later, in February of 2002, Google unveils AdWords. Flash ahead to today and we see that AdWords provides the major revenue source for Google, accounting for over 80% of income last year. Trouble…

…That’s trouble with a capital T, which rhymes with P and that stands for Patent.

(with apologies to Meredith Willson, author of The Music Man)

Links have been a factor in ranking well in the SERPs for a long time now, but recently they have become much more important, especially when seeking high rankings on Google. Because of this, incoming links have turned into a hot commodity, especially from high PageRank sites.

For a while now websites have been offering paid run-of-site links, the higher the PR, the higher the cost. But now some webmasters may have found a way to essentially steal or borrow PageRank, giving the illusion that their site is much more powerful in order to drive up advertising costs. If you are thinking of purchasing site wide links, this is something of importance to watch out for. Read more…

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Thursday, May 27th, 2004

Google Losing IT's Cool?

Since November 2003, the good folk at Google have found themselves on a public relations roller coaster. As the biggest and most popular search tool ever, one would think that Google had nothing to prove. Realistically though, the Internet is a participatory medium built on the experiences of live-users as well as a business medium build upon the bottom line. Two important facts about the Internet: Read more…

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