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In my review of today’s SEO and search engine headlines I came across a few posts of interest that I would like to share with you:

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Google Unveils Plus Box

More details are now available on selected searches as Google unveils “Plus Box”. Wherever you see the plus box icon “ ” clicking on it will provide you with additional information on the link. A search for Microsoft, with the plus box clicked shows the following:

Currently there are two types of plus box results being displayed. The above stock example for Microsoft, as well as maps for appropriate local results, such is the case with a search for “Babbo”, a restaurant in New York.

This information is not available for all businesses but Google is working on increasing its availability.

If you would like to find a search for your business including this extra information, ensure your full business address is located on your webs site in a textual format and then visit Google’s Local Business Center to add or update your information.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Google Themes

Remember way back when HotBot offered customized home page graphics? Actually, I believe it was HotBot, but it has been so many years since I have seen it, I can’t recall exactly. I tried to grab a screen shot but was unable to find it, so perhaps the option is long gone by now. At any rate, Google has now followed suit and added customizable themes for the personalized view of Google Search.

These screen shots have been taken from their beach theme. They offer a small selection of dynamic themes that change to reflect the time of day. Some selections include a bus stop, city, and seasonal.

These themes are available to anyone logged into their Google Account who selects “Personalized Search”. I for one prefer the basic simple interface. I am not much for all this customization as I personally don’t use these extra features.

It is interesting though that Google has taken an age old idea from HotBot and implemented it themselves. I guess making the theme dynamic adds a twist on this old idea. Will it catch on? I suppose only time will tell.

Today Adobe unveiled the alpha release of Apollo which Adobe’s Mike Downey describes as a “cross operating system runtime that allows users to install desktop applications built using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript and Flash.” In layman’s terms, Apollo enables web developers to create applications for your computer using the web technology they already know and work in. Read more…

In a move that has been long in coming Google has chosen to provide a safer environment for its patrons by blocking access to sites that appear to have malicious code.

The genius, in my opinion, is they are not blocking the sites from appearing but offering a warning under the title of a ‘harmful’ listing. The site may even appear number one and two as in the case of the search phrase “beautiful free screensaver” where the top 2 listings from the same site have the “this site may harm your computer” warning listed below the title. Read more…

We’ve known it was coming as Yahoo has been talking about it for a while now, but the new ranking model will be officially unleashed on February 5, 2007, according to Yahoo’s mass mail out news letter.

In the good old days things were very simple. If you wanted your ad to rank well, you simply bid more money than the next guy. That was it. This did cause the occasional bidding war for advertisers resulting in a skyrocketing per click price, but the concept was simple.

Following in Google’s footsteps, as of early next month, rankings will be determined by more than just your bid. Rankings will continue to be reflective of your bid amount, but only to a degree. Now they will also incorporate the ad quality which is determined by the historical click through rate (CTR) combined with a number of other algorithmic factors which examine items such as your actual ad copy and competitor’s ad copy. This combination of items will result in the “quality index” which will be used to help sort out the ads.

Of importance to note is how this will affect your cost per click charges. Historically you only paid one cent more than your next closest competitor. Under the new system you will pay one cent more than the amount required to hold your current position in the search results. (This is based on a combination of your bid amount and your quality index score). Ultimately increasing your quality index score can result in a lower cost per click while maintaining the same ranking position. There is now a greater chance that you could end up paying closer to your maximum bid, so be sure you are comfortable with whatever figures you enter. For more information on the effects of your maximum bid, visit Yahoo Search Marketing Help.

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

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.

Today Yahoo! released an option-packed email program to all Yahoo! Mail users throughout the USA and 18 markets around the world. The press release provides a glimpse into what this new product offers Read more…

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Ebay Hikes Rates, Where's Google?

Recently the world of online auctioneers saw the rates at eBay spike a little higher, and has a number of sellers very unhappy about the situation. This has also sparked a number of eBay listings surrounding this hike, like this T-Shirt “I survived the eBay Rate Increase of August ’06“. Wonder how many they will sell?

Finding information on the eBay rate increase was more difficult than expected. One would expect to find a press release, but a look at their PR page come up blank (). I’m curious, eBay sends out a ton of messages advertising free listing days and other various news to its users. I on the other hand did not receive a single message from them stating the rate increase. Would this not seem like a natural thing to do?

Many are turning to Google in hopes that the internet search giant will come out and develop a true eBay competitor. Today eBay has a virtual monopoly on the online auction business. While there are many auction sites on the internet, none can even come close to comparing to the immense power and spread of eBay. Where’s Google? Even Yahoo has an auction site, although I have to be honest, I have yet to try it.

This does bring up the question, why has Google not come out yet and created a competitor? Google seems to have a knack for this kind of thing. It seems to me that because of the power and revenue generated by AdWords ads, they could do quite well even offering a free online auction service. The ad revenue could far exceed the auction listing fees and combined with an even stronger online presence, Google could certainly overtake eBay and profit considerably.

A search of Google Labs, or even a general internet search doesn’t turn up anything official even suggesting that Google is thinking about going in this direction, but it does seem like a natural progression seeing as how they have roughly 50% of search already, and have developed a name trusted around the world.