Goobuntu – Google’s Linux Distro

The Register is reporting that Google is working on a Linux Distro built off of Ubuntu.

Google is preparing its own distribution of Linux for the desktop, in a possible bid to take on Microsoft in its core business – desktop software.

A version of the increasingly popular Ubuntu desktop Linux distribution, based on Debian and the Gnome desktop, it is known internally as ‘Goobuntu’.

Google has confirmed it is working on a desktop linux project called Goobuntu, but declined to supply further details, including what the project is for.

Linux has consistently run into usability problems and thus been generally delegated as a server operating system. I’m hoping Google can produce a usable desktop version of Linux, similar to how Apple made Unix (FreeBSD) usable. I’m really hoping it doesn’t look like this.

Search Engine Marketing Magazine

I know Barry covered this a week ago, but I just received an email from Boris Mordkovich at the Search Marketing Standard asking for a mention on my blog – so here it is.

Our company has just launched the first print magazine dedicated to solely covering SEM – Search Marketing Standard. It’s a quarterly publication, about 40 pages large (for starters), with a subscribers base of over 15,000+.

Our debut issue will be coming out in May and we have already launched our website – www.searchmarketingstandard.com. We’re very excited about this venture, as we feel that a magazine in our industry is long overdue and we’re pleased to be the first ones to do it.

I would truly appreciate it if you could mention the magazine in your blog. I think that your readers would be interested in it and it would certainly mean a lot to us.

In case you need more information, we had a press release come out a few days ago: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/1/prweb337487.htm

They are offering a free one year subscription on their website. I’ve signed up and I’ll post a review of the magazine in May.

Yahoo Asking For Questions For Andrei Broder

Yahoo is hosting a Q&A session with Andrei Broder over at their search blog.

My question for Andrei Broder:

Blog Search. It sucks. How is Yahoo going to make it better? Conversation based search? Comment search?

My second question for Andrei Broder:

PS. If you are annoyed by all these sites that ask you to copy some letters or numbers to prove you are not a bot, you can blame Andrei as well: he co-invented this challenge, back in 1998.

Do you regret inventing this? Proving that you are not a bot to a ton of sites daily is annoying to say the least.

Google’s Official Response to Google China

I’ve been waiting for this – Google’s official response to Google in China.

With so many denouncing Google’s move into China, it’s good to see the thoughts behind Google China.

Bill Thompson from the BBC argues that Google’s entry into China makes perfect sense.

Forgive me if I refuse to go along with the knee-jerk consensus on this one.

Millions of people may now be turning away from Google in disgust, but I’ve just reinstated them as the default search for my Firefox toolbar, because I think it should be supported for its brave decision.

Even if the primary motivation for going into China is that it makes commercial sense for the company – as indeed it must do, since US law is quite harsh on boards that take actions which could damage shareholder value – it also makes political sense.

Supporters of free speech and open societies should be supporting Google rather than lambasting it.

David Weinberger would have done the same if he was Google.

If forced to choose — as Google has been — I’d probably do what Google is doing. It sucks, it stinks, but how would an information embargo help? It wouldn’t apply pressure on the Chinese government. Chinese citizens would not be any more likely to rise up against the government because they don’t have access to Google. Staying out of China would not lead to a more free China.

Doc Searls believes into continuing the conversation with the Chinese goverment over the alternative.

I believe constant engagement — conversation, if you will — with the Chinese government, beats picking up one’s very large marbles and going home. Which seems to be the alternative.

I’d have to agree. I don’t see any alternative for Google to take. Staying out of China is a bad option financially and politically – If the ultimate goal is to affect change in China, staying out of China is not the way to go.

Rand Says SEO vs. Conversion Debate Shouldn’t Exist

Rand responded to an entry I wrote last week about optimization vs user experience and I totally agree with him.

The two are inextricably tied together. How is it that SEO can make a site less user-friendly when our primary work is making the site attractive to visitors, potential linkers and search engines? These groups all have the same desire – high quality content, descriptive title tags and text & a usable experience.

Here’s the thing though – not all SEOs are the same. Not all SEOs are out there trying to make site more attractive or producing higher quality content. Some SEOs are real new to optimization and really don’t know any better. So as long as there is an SEO out there employing doorway pages, keyword spam, html spam – we’ll still be having this debate.

That’s why I feel it is important to talk about basic issues like conversions/tracking/analytics, if only to teach newer SEOs to continually think about how their optimization efforts are affecting the website as a whole. SEO is not conducted in a vacuum.

Make sure you drop by Rand’s entry and read up on the comments. There’s some good discussion going on over there.

Some quotes from the comments:

jestep:

I think that a lot of people associate traffic with conversions. The belief is that the more traffic, the more potential to make a sale. The problem is that many shady SEO’s (so called SEO’s) prey on the business owners that believe in the traffic = revenue theory. Because of this I think that SEO is looked upon by many as a shady industry. Full of deception on both the user and the search engine level.

rmccarley:

Keep in mind that not all high-traffic terms are convertable. The idea at that point is to build a site that is a resource and will have the viewer coming back so they make the purchase through you when they are ready (adds a bit to the concept of first impressions, don’t you think?).

EGOL:

Bottom line. You can’t focus on traffic. You need to be greedy and want the traffic AND the conversions.

Optimization vs User Experience

I’ve run into this problem many times:

Before optimization a site is converting about 3% of its traffic. After optimization, it’s converting about 2% of its traffic but I’ve increased the traffic to the site by 50%. Not bad right? I only lost about 1% conversion, but I’ve increased traffic by a whopping 50%.

Some quick math shows that I haven’t done anything to help the site’s overall goal.

100 visitors x 3% conversion = 3 visitors converting
150 visitors x 2% conversion = 3 visitors converting

Quite often, small changes will affect the conversion rate of a page – a couple more footer links, some content rewording, or a revised title. All your efforts could easily sabotage your returns.

Obviously usability and search engine optimization can go hand in hand – they aren’t mutually exclusive. But what if you need to choose between one or the other to spend on? Should you allocate your budget for marketing or improving user experience? Or what makes more sense for a successful website?

I’d start off focusing on a web site’s usability and user experience, long before I’d allocate funds for marketing. You should too.

Why?

First, improving your user experience/usability augments the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. It doesn’t go the other way around.

Second, marketing costs are limited by time. If you stop paying for PPC or SEO – your traffic will begin to taper off too. Not so with improvements to usability, since generally it is a one time thing. (Of course, you probably want to continually improve your user experience)

Third, dollar for dollar it’s hard for marketing to generate the same amount of returns investing in your user experience will generate. Let’s say your current conversion rate is 1% and through usability testing / conversion tweaks, you are able to increase that to 2%. In order for marketing to return the same amount of overall conversions, you would have to increase your traffic by 100%. On top of that, you would need to keep those traffic gains consistent all the time.

Fourth, many usability tweaks are common sense. For example, take a look at this thread over at Webmaster World, many of the tips are simple and would not cost anything other than a few minutes of your time.

Focus on a good user experience first, then place your efforts into your search engine marketing campaigns. Not before.

Anyone else have a story about optimization/marketing campaigns that affected conversions (for better or worse)?

v7ndotcom elursrebmem

What is v7ndotcom elursrebmem?

v7ndotcom elursrebmem are the keywords John Scott has picked for V7N SEO Contest. If you reverse the keywords around, you’ll notice they spell out the words “members rule”.

Why v7ndotcom elursrebmem?

From John Scott:

The keywords I chose indicate the value this community places upon community. The v7n community has always been, in my opinion, a couple notches above other forums where community is involved.

What are the rules of SEO Contest

1. In order to win the first prize, you must place first in Google (organic rankings) for the search term on May 15, 2006, noon, Pacific standard time.

2. Prizes for 2nd place through 5th place will be awarded based on web page placing in the corresponding positions in Google on May 15, 2006, noon, Pacific standard time.

3. For the purpose of this competition, indented listings in the SERPs will not be counted.

4. In order to qualify for the prize, a web page must include one of the following:

a. A link back to the V7N home page.

The link can be in any manner you wish, any anchor text you wish, with nofollow, without nofollow, JavaScript, cloaked or fried up and served with potatoes.

b. One of these Official V7n SEO Contest banners:

The banners may link to V7N, or not link to V7N. Linking the banner to any domain other than v7n will disqualify the contestant.

Just to make this very clear, the banner may be unlinked. You do not need to link the banner graphic to v7n. For those who do not speak English: you do not need to link el-banner-o to v7n-o.

c. The following text:

We support v7n.com

Basically attain the top rank for v7ndotcom elursrebmem and place some sort of message supporting V7N.

What are the prizes?

First Prize: $4000 + Ipod
Second Prize: $500
Third Prize: $100
Fourth Prize: $100
Fifth Prize: $100

Greg Boser, Todd Friesen, and Mike Grehan are also adding cash prizes if you are willing to follow a couple more rules.

Extra rules?

In addition to ranking for v7ndotcom elursrebmem, you’ll need to:

1. Place a link to the non-www version of Matt’s blog (http://mattcutts.com/blog.

In order to be eligible for the cash, your site will need to show up in a backlink search conducted on the day the contest ends. (We will use Yahoo’s Site Explorer to verify compliance.)

2. Use one of the non-link alternatives for the duration of the contest. (We will track and logs linking sites in order to determine eligibility).

v7ndotcom elursrebmem News

People have already started developing entries for the v7ndotcom elursrebmem contest. Yahoo is already showing more than 350+ entries for “v7ndotcom elursrebmem”. Threadwatch is covering a new google UI test showing Google Base entries for “v7ndotcom elursrebmem”. Even Danny Sullivan can’t ignore the contest like he thought.

Damn — just when I thought I could ignore the latest SEO contest, it does something interesting.

I’m betting the one with the best viral marketing campaign wins.

My Favorite Google Tool – Google SMS

Aside from Gmail (which I have been using for more than a year now), there is one other Google tool that I can’t live without – Google SMS.

I have one of those old Verizon phones and I don’t pay for web access or data, so my only way of tapping into search is through SMS. Ever since Google SMS launched, I’ve been using the service to find local restaurants, movie times, directions, phone numbers, etc. It’s replaced 411 as a more efficient and lower cost alternative to finding phone numbers for businesses.

I’m sure Google will start placing advertisements on text messages to monetize the service soon, but in the meanwhile – I’m enjoying the ad free service. It works and I can’t live without it.

Google even offers a wallet sized tip sheet(pdf) you can print out for Google SMS.

BigDaddy Data Center Default for Web Results

This new datacenter is going to be the default for Google’s web results. Bigdaddy is live at 64.233.179.104 and 66.249.93.104.

Q: Do you expect this to become the default source of web results? How long will it take?
A: Yes, I do expect Bigdaddy to become the default source of web results. The length of the transition will depend on lots of different issues. Right now I’m guessing 1-2 months, but if I find out more specifics I’ll let you know.

Google PC

Google has been in talks with Walmart to sell a cheap Google PC with Google’s operating system (via LA Times). Looks like Microsoft is in for some tough times, a cheap PC running Google’s free products (Gmail, Google Maps, Google Base, Personalized Homepage) will make it harder for Microsoft to charge high prices for software.

Sources say Google has been in negotiations with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., among other retailers, to sell a Google PC. The machine would run an operating system created by Google, not Microsoft’s Windows, which is one reason it would be so cheap — perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars.

Bear Stearns analysts speculated in a research report last month that consumers would soon see something called “Google Cubes” — a small hardware box that could allow users to move songs, videos and other digital files between their computers and TV sets.

Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and president of products, will give a keynote address Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Analysts suspect that Page will use the opportunity either to show off a Google computing device or announce a partnership with a big retailer to sell such a machine.