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May 8, 2006

Weekend Update 05/08/2006

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We hope you had a most excellent Cinco de Mayo weekend. Here’s what you missed while you were… recovering.

First, a quick thanks to Nathan Weinberg who had some nice things to say about us over at InsideMicrosoft. We’re glad you found us; now don’t be a stranger! :)

On to the news: Have you checked on your SEO staff today? Are they rocking back and forth in a dark room? A study set to be released today found search marketers are a frazzled and fragmented bunch. It’s true. Research says most search marketers have five other job functions in addition to their SEO tasks. What else are they doing? Well, according to the study, 58 percent are also responsible for site design, 57 percent are in charge of e-mail advertising, 49 percent are responsible for marketing communications, 44 percent perform market research, and 26 percent serve as the resident IT guy. And you wonder why most companies outsource their SEO projects.

SEO Black Hat reports that Expedia France may find itself in a google of trouble for hosting spammers. The guys at Black Hat note when doing a search for ‘buy Viagra’ the first Google results leads to doorway pages for sites like theCanadianMeds.com or XBliz.com. In fact, adding the word “expedia” to that search brings up even more interesting results. It’s something we’ve seen ourselves, as the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog has been denying trackbacks from all sorts of Expedia.fr subdomains for weeks now. It seems spammers are buying up Expedia subdomains and using them for evil. And to the guys at Black Hat, don’t worry, we won’t ask how you made the discovery. Mostly because we like your monkeys.

A group of European bloggers have made an interesting discovery: AdWords has invaded Google Earth — a logical step for Google, yet puzzling to me all at the same time. With the free release of SketchUp, users are reintroducing themselves to GE as they upload their designs into the system. This makes placing ads in GE a very logical step. However, my curiosity comes from one key question: What kind of ads are they running?

Loren Baker says the ads are ‘local’ and ‘targeted’. But how? Are they running local ads for the destinations people are visiting? Or maybe the ads are localized by IP? I don’t know about everyone else, but when I’m using Google Earth, I’m not so much looking up the drugstore down the street. If I was doing that, there are a million other applications I would use before GE (I’ve mentioned my penchant for Ask’s mapping technology). I use Google Earth to travel back East for a nostalgic look at my parent’s house, scout honeymoon destinations or to ‘ooo’ and ‘ahh’ at the Google Campus (seriously, it’s impressive even at 3,075 ft). If the ads are generated by the zip code you’re looking at, I’m not seeing much effectiveness. Though, my GE has no ads, so I can’t be completely sure.

For those who just can’t wait for Thursday’s expected Google Health announcement, ZDNet’s Garett Rogers directs users to the Google datacenter located at http://64.233.167.99, which seems to already be integrating the technology. Doing a health-related search gives users a clustering-type option of narrowing their results based on Treatment, Symptoms, News, Alternative Medicine and other factors. Honestly, it leaves me slightly saddened. I was hoping for a little more. Perhaps something more portal and less search. Even as a search feature, I’m not impressed. When I do a search for ‘tired’, and then choose News, the fifth result is for the Parents Against Tired Truckers site. While I am tired, I am not a trucker. Hopefully Google will get this all figured out.

Ending with some fun stuff: Nathan points users to Google Mordor, a fully-functional Google search engine with a customized look. While I’m not well-versed in my LOTR knowledge, a fully-functional and customized Google sounds like a very powerful thing indeed. Webmasters everywhere could have a lot of fun with this, creating their own site-specific Googles. Unfortunately, the creators say they’re no longer able to replicate the Google engine. Suuuure.

And though I gave them a hard time last week, I can most definitely get behind Microsoft’s new SenseWeb project. SenseWeb will reportedly give users real-time information regarding local traffic, restaurant wait-times, parking information, gas prices and more. Yes, Yahoo! maps offer something similar, but it’s the gas prices that got me. With the rate they’re going, you need real-time updates. And as Barry Schwartz pointed out, if Microsoft can integrate this into their GPS system, this could be very cool indeed. Interesting stuff. So no hard feelings, right guys?

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