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Over the past couple years it has been impossible to avoid the buzz about images and their increasing role in search; such as universal search which is becoming commonplace among the major search engines. But universal search is only the most prevalent news and only the baby-steps of a new format of search that is about to take over the Internet. Do I have your interest piqued? I will now lay the foundation of my statement to hopefully get you as excited as I am about this unstoppable search evolution.

Evidence 1) Photosynth
If you have any technology mavens as friends it is likely you saw this incredible video presented by Microsoft at the TED conference last year discussing Photosynth. To quote Microsoft Lab’s Photosynth home page this software

takes a large collection of photos of a place or an object, analyzes them for similarities, and then displays the photos in a reconstructed three-dimensional space, showing you how each one relates to the next. In our collections, you can access gigabytes of photos in seconds, view a scene from nearly any angle, find similar photos with a single click, and zoom in to make the smallest detail as big as your monitor.” Read more…

On Feb 28th at SMX West I was fortunate to spend some time with Jeremiah Andrick, Program Manager of Live Search Webmaster Center. To start I let Jeremiah give an introduction to Live Webmaster Tools and soon after we began discussing some of the latest additions to the tools and he gave an inkling that some major stuff is coming down the line. I hope you enjoy the interview because I had a lot of fun doing it. Microsoft is very lucky to have a talented down-to-earth guy like Jeremiah on the team. I am surely going to hit him up for more interviews in the future but he won’t get off quite so easily… I will have more pointed questions next time around ;-) This, however, is a great introduction to Jeremiah and the tools that Live Search Webmaster Center provides. Read more…

Microsoft released the following official statement today in response to Yahoo’s denial of the $44 bn dollar offer and I highlighted Microsoft’s fully-expected overture towards a hostile takeover:

It is unfortunate that Yahoo! has not embraced our full and fair proposal to combine our companies. Based on conversations with stakeholders of both companies, we are confident that moving forward promptly to consummate a transaction is in the best interests of all parties.

We are offering shareholders superior value and the opportunity to participate in the upside of the combined company. The combination also offers an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online services market.

A Microsoft-Yahoo! combination will create a more effective company that would provide greater value and service to our customers. Furthermore, the combination will create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a compelling number two competitor for Internet search and online advertising.

The Yahoo! response does not change our belief in the strategic and financial merits of our proposal. As we have said previously, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure that Yahoo!’s shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal.

The nastiness is about to begin as Microsoft is likely to launch its first publicly hostile takeover of another company.

Jerry Yang and Bill Gates in a Borg suit shown. - Resistance is Futile!Over the weekend Bloomberg reports that Yahoo’s board decided to reject Microsoft’s offer of $44 bn because they felt their stock was substantially undervalued but they hinted they could be drawn back to the table with a more alluring offer.

“The board spent a week reviewing the $31-per-share offer before deciding it was too low. The statement didn’t give a counter-proposal for the price. Yahoo wants at least $40, the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend.” (source Bloomberg exclusive)

Read more…

The rumors have been flying around for some time now over whether or not Microsoft will put in an offer for search Giant Yahoo. Many have speculated over the past few months as to if Microsoft would try for an acquisition, and if so, how much was it worth to them.

This morning all speculation came to an end when Microsoft unexpectantly waved $44.6 Billion under Yahoo’s nose. Shortly after the announcement Yahoo Shares rose sharply by more than 50%, while Google shares took another 8% drop down to 515.90 by close of day Friday.

The latest acquisition attempt, and what would be one of the largest in history, would put Microsoft in a position to actually compete with distant leader Google.

In a conference call this morning Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer stated:

“This is a decision we have – and I have – thought long and hard about,” Ballmer said. “We are confident it’s the right path for Microsoft and Yahoo.”

Last year Microsoft purchased online ad service aQuantive for a stagger $6 Billion – petty cash compared the offer currently on the table for Yahoo.

Last year Microsoft was negotiating to purchase yahoo (see Microsoft Buy Yahoo? Yes Please!) And at that time the Wall Street Journal had estimated Yahoo’s value at around $50 Billion.

Will the deal go though this time? It would certainly stir things up and make life a little more interesting for us SEO folks – If the past is any indication of the future, then this deal may just fizzle out, but with Yahoos recent layoff announcement, and lower than expected fourth quarter earnings, this just may be there way out.

(on a completely “conspiracy theory” type level, perhaps Yahoo just paid off Microsoft under the table to stage a fake offer in order to drive Yahoo shares up? Do I believe this – well no, but I was recently reading about some famous historical publicity stunts, so this theory came to mind and I wanted to share it)

In the course of my day I come across a load of great articles or news posts that I often don’t have time to read. Sometimes I even do read them but forget to share the wealth. In addition, my Twitter feed is chalk full of article suggestions and tips from great minds; unfortunately I don’t do a good job of noting them yet. Here are a few links and tips I have come across today, I will try to do this more often:

As an accredited Yahoo Ambassador, I am accustomed to working with the Yahoo Search Marketing PPC system (YSM). Although YSM can be an effective means of paid advertising, its Panama system still has a ways to go and I want to share with you several of the challenges in setting up a geo-targeted campaign.

Opening an account with an address in the US or Canada, restricts you to advertising only in those markets. If you’d like to geo-target other areas of the globe, you have to use this site: Yahoo International Accounts Read more…

chart of the top 50 web properties of December 2007 according to comScore MetrixcomScore released statistics of U.S. consumer activity for the December ’07 holiday season. Included was the always interesting list of the Top 50 web properties:

“Yahoo! Sites continued its reign as the top U.S. Web property in December with nearly 137 million visitors, followed by Google Sites (133 million visitors) and Microsoft Sites (120 million visitors). Apple Inc., which benefited from interest in popular holiday gifts like the iPod and iPhone, moved up one spot to capture position 10 with 47.7 million visitors. Holiday shopping also lifted Sears Sites, which jumped 10 spots to number 21, Best Buy Sites, which rose 5 spots to 22, and JCPenney Sites, gaining 5 spots to position 40. NBC Universal, iVillage.com: The Womens Network, and Weatherbug Property all entered the rankings this month capturing positions 48, 49, and 50, respectively.”

Mike McDonald of WebProNews conducted a great, very informative interview with Live Webmaster Tool’s Product Manager, Jeremiah Andrick.

Jeremiah discusses paid links, cloaking, the backlink function at Live Search and my special favorite – the incident where Adwords ads got indexed. Check it out, I think you will appreciate the frankness of Jeremiah’s answers. You can certainly tell that Microsoft has finally figured out that Webmasters need to feel the love. Read more…

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Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Microsoft Acquires FASTer Search

The search world appears to have renewed its interest in Microsoft’s potential in the search industry since the company reportedly put in an offer to acquire Norwegian search company Fast Search for 1.23 billion.

So why all the hullaballoo? Well, Microsoft’s Live Search has some good technology behind it but it has not exactly impressed those that want highly relevant search. The acquisition of FAST search technology, however, would provide Microsoft with an infusion of established processes light years more developed than its own.

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