Review of Google Earth Beta

Mark Draughn from Windypundit got his hands on a beta release of Google Earth.

I’m having a hard time deciding which mapping product I’m more excited about – Google Earth or MSN’s Virtual Earth. Both are going to be great, but I wonder which one will allow developers to extend the initial application. (like Housing Maps for Google Maps)

Check out his review and the new features from the release notes.

New SEO Firms and Paid Search Advertising Agencies Buyer’s Guide

Marketing Sherpa just released their new Buyer’s Guides to SEO Firms and Paid Search Advertising Agencies: 2005-2006.

If you’re considering hiring an SEO firm or Paid Search Ad agency, I’d suggest SEO inc of course – but I’d recommend checking out Marketing Sherpa’s Guide if you need more information about the numerous SEO firms. The guide will save you time from researching over 100 different SEO firms.

This year Marketing Sherpa has split up old guide into two separate guides. One guide covers Search Engine Optimization Firms and another guide covers Paid Search Advertising Agencies. The Paid Search Advertising Agencies Guide is 100% new, since this is the first time Marketing Sherpa is releasing a guide covering only paid search. The SEO Firms Guide is a 4th edition release.

Jim Lanzone Answers About Ask Jeeves

On friday I mentioned that Jim Lanzone would be doing a live question and answer session over at the Cre8asite Forums.

On his day off, Jim dropped by the forum and answered member questions. Jim covered topics from company focus to search usability.

Jim is making it very clear that Bloglines is an integral part of Ask Jeeves’ strategy.

I view Bloglines as the yin to search’s yang. You find it with search, you manage and track it with a service like Bloglines or MyJeeves. Since we were committed to that vision, it made sense to acquire the site, technology and team behind the #1 service in that space.

A week ago, Jim answered 5 questions at Search Views and mentioned Bloglines as a universal homepage.

We envision Bloglines as the homepage of the 21st century: ‘the Universal Inbox’.

Findory Launches Personalized Advertising Engine

On Monday, Findory launched their personalized advertising engine. Designed to serve ads based on reader behavior, Findory is offering personalization on both content and advertising fronts.

Findory is feeding personalized keywords into Google AdSense to generate highly targeted ads. These keywords change as you continue to use Findory and the ads become more personalized and targeted as Findory’s systems gather more data. Philipp notices that the variables google_kw_type and google_kw are being used in Findory’s AdSense code.

If you did not know, google_kw_type and google_kw are used in extreme cases for sites with targeting issues. I would not recommend adding these to your sites, because it is against the terms of service to use them without permission from the AdSense team.

Findory changes the keywords for google_kw each time a page is reloaded in order to serve the most targeted ads every time. Very cool and very innovative. Although google_kw and google_hints have been used before to serve targetted ads based on content. I believe Findory is the first company to target Google AdSense by reader behavior.

SEO Quiz – Part 1: URLs

Inspired by Rand’s SEOmoz Quiz, I thought I would start a new series here called SEO Quiz. The goal here is to ask some questions about search engine optimization and generate some discussion about favored methods.

Hopefully, these questions and answers will become useful bits of information for SEOs. Every week I’ll post a new question and leave it up for comments throughout the week. At the end of the week, I’ll pull out the most notable comments and summarize what people thought were the best practices. Of course I will add in my thoughts as well.

So lets start off with the first question.

Q: When linking to the homepage from an internal page, which of the following URLs is the best choice?

  • A: /
  • B: http://www.mydomain.com
  • C: http://www.mydomain.com/
  • D: http://www.mydomain.com/index.html

Toolbar PR Gone

Just noticed that Google Toolbar PR is gone for almost every site.

I wonder if Google is phasing out toolbar PR or if this is just a glitch. I’m getting a grey PR across all datacenters for www.gooogle.com.

Are we seeing the end of public PageRank access? Maybe.

Yahoo Reads Your Mind

Yahoo just released Yahoo Mindset – allowing you to view Yahoo search results sorted by intent.

Sometimes you are looking for information and other times you are looking for something to buy. Yahoo Mindset gives you the option to sort results by the level of commercial or informational value.

The interface to Yahoo Mindset is very simple, just an intuitive slider. Looking for shopping results? Slide it to the left. Looking for information? Slide it to the right.

For a full description, head over to the Yahoo! Research Labs Mindset pages.

Update: Barry has a review of Yahoo Mindset over at the roundtable.

Google and Microsoft View Each Other Differently

Despite recent search developments and a respectable third-place market market share, Microsoft is still not a competitor in Google’s eyes. Addressing the audience at the Technology Alliance luncheon yesterday, Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt identified Yahoo! as their main competitor. He downplayed the notion of Microsoft as a main competitor in the search market. Schmidt explained that Google’s focus is to innovate and less concerned with competiting corporations.

Microsoft, however, seems to be very focused on Google. At the D3 conference in Carlsbad, Bill Gates expressed skepticsm over Google’s ability to continue its domination of the search market. Both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have previously said they will continue to improve Microsoft’s search offerings.

Google may not consider Microsoft a competitor right now. But with Microsoft releasing tools like Microsoft Toolbar Suite and developing products like Virtual Earth, it won’t take long before Microsoft forces Google to take notice.

Meet the Google Engineers

Google is sending approximately 10 search engineers to WebmasterWorld’s New Orleans Conference to participate in an interactive forum.

Google is inviting you to join the engineers for some conversation and discussion over topics of interest and relevance. This is a chance to interact directly with the people behind the engine.

All attendees must register for the session, so head over here to sign up.

Aside: Hopefully someone at the session will ask the engineers about the 302 redirects.

Google Print Live

Looks like Google Print is live now. (via SEW)

For copyrighted books, Google is displaying only a couple pages regarding the context of the search. Depending on the publisher’s requests, Google will only display a couple sentences instead. Public Domain works are fully viewable online.

There are no advanced search options yet, right now the tool only searches for text in titles and in book content.

In addition to content search, Google Print offers:

Search again: Find more results for your original search terms in other parts of the book, or try a new search within the book.
Find reviews: Choose “About this Book,” then click “Web search for reviews” to find online reviews of the book.
Find related information: Choose “About this Book” and click on “Other web pages related to …” to find other websites that mention the book.
Learn about the publisher: Click through to the publisher’s website to find more books from that publisher.
Buy this book: Click on one of the online booksellers to go to directly to a page where you can buy the book.
Find it in a Library: If this book is a library book, you’ll be able to find a local library that has it by clicking “Find it in a Library” and entering your zip code.

AdSense Tips From DigitalPoint Forums

Barry points out a thread over at the DigitalPoint Forums detailing how a member quadrupled her AdSense click through rate by changing her ad layout.

Critter, the thread starter, increased her click through rate by drawing greater attention to her ads. She moved her ads into a different location and placed images above the ads to attract clicks.

Click on the image to see the ad layout changes.

Marketing requires constant testing and tweaking. Always continue to test your ad placements, small changes can lead to great returns.

Here’s how another member of the forums implemented this technique.

Shellen Answers Questions About AdSense For Feeds

Ever since AdSense For Feeds was released by Google, questions have arisen over Google’s policies regarding this new program. Matt questioned whether the program was only accepting Blogger.com and Movable Type sites. T. David asks if the program is already full. Tim Bray wonders what exactly is a “Feed User” and why the Terms and Conditions of the program are so unclear.

Although Google has not publicly addressed these issues, Jason Shellen from Google is using his personal blog to answer Tim Bray’s questions. He’s doing his best to keep the two-way conversation alive.

Here’s a list of blogs run by Google and Yahoo employees.

Aside: Too bad there is no one inside Google talking about the 302 issue. Instead all we have is a one-sided conversation and some very canned PR responses.

Ask Jeeves Adds Zoom and Web Answers

Today Ask Jeeves is set to launch two new updates to their search engine. Both updates aim to improve user experience and allow for searchers to find what they need faster.

“Zoom” offers suggestions broken down into three categories: Narrow Your Search, Expand Your Search, and Related Names. Suggestions from the Narrow Your Search category help you quickly focus your search without having to perform any additional steps. Expand Your Search provides broader topics related to the original search. Expanding a search is an easy way to figure out the topic’s broader context. “Zoom” almost feels like an information mind map – concepts are separated by relation so single queries now have context.

“Web Answers” is an update on Ask Jeeves’ answering tool. “Web Answers” provides answers directly from regular web pages. By mining unstructured data instead of using editors or structured databases, Ask Jeeves can answer more queries that previously possible. Web Answers are displayed at the top of organic search results and the answer is highlighted in context within the web page.

Chris Sherman of SEW reminds us that searchers still need to be careful when using “Web Answers”. Since these answers are coming from regular web pages, the content maybe false or satirical in nature.

Both “Zoom” and “Web Answers” are big innovations – keep an eye on Ask Jeeves, they aren’t out of the game yet.