Friday, 26 September 2008

Google launches new 'Android' phone

The New York Times reports on the launch of the new 'Google phone' which is intended to challenge the Apple iPhone as a way to extend the Internet to the mobile market. Developed in conjunction with T-Mobile, the new G1 phone will be launched in the US at the end of October and offers a slick design that combines a touch-screen and keyboard.

The new phone is the first to be powered by Google’s Android operating system, which was introduced to allow mobile phone companies to provide more flexibility in the way that the Internet can be used in this sector. The article reports comments by analysts who have said that the G1 did not represent the kind of revolutionary change in design and function that the iPhone has shown, but this new launch is likely to further accelerate the two trends that will have a lasting impact on the wireless industry - namely, the growing use of the mobile Internet, and the ability of consumers to customize their phones with their favorite functions.

At the G1 launch in New York, it was announced that the new phone will have a selling price just below the iPhone. In addition, it will include applications such as Google’s search, maps, Gmail and YouTube, although the Android concept is to also encourage third-party developers to create programs to run on it. Google will include an applications store, called the Android Marketplace, where the owners of the G1 and future Android-powered phones will be able to download those programs, so that consumers will be able to decide what they want to run on their phones.

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Monday, 22 September 2008

Google AdWords amends privacy link

Google AdWords have announced that the conversion tracking code supplied to advertisers now has an option not to be displayed on a website. Unlike Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter, Google's PPC tracking code has always displayed a small line of text on the page that's displayed once an action has been submitted. This has always been there to 'comply with privacy requirements' but also helps to promote Google's involvement on an advertiser's website.

So advertisers who use this code now have the option to hide the 'Google Site Stats' line of text and link to Google's privacy page. Existing advertisers will need to revise their existing code to remove this line, if required. New advertisers, or users of the conversion tracking code, are warned by Google if they choose to hide the link, that they should inform their website users about the tracking methods being used on the site through the site's privacy policy.

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Thursday, 18 September 2008

Google and search evaluation

Adding another post in their series about the 'inner workings' of Google, the Official Google Blog published an article earlier this week about the process of search evaluation - how they measure the quality of search results being produced and how they meet users' expectations.

As the post illustrates, there are many different factors that need to be taken into account and different approaches considered, but ultimately Google (and any other serious search engine) need to constantly review and revise the ways that search results are generated automatically and can meet the needs of the user as closely as possible, since that is the way that users will be retained as regular users.

There are 4 main stages of evaluating search results - understanding what a user's intent is when they search, comparing the quality of search results from different sources, assessing what is 'good' or most relevant, and finally considering different geographic locals and search options (particularly now that Google's universal search results combine answers from other sources, such as news, local search or video).

Google uses a team of human evaluators around the world to conduct search tests, as well as live traffic experiments to assess and review search quality. This can include statistical evaluation and a review of user actions, or a manual rating of the appropriateness, usefulness, and relevance of each individual related search suggestion. Clearly this can be a never-ending process that will never be perfect but at least tries to continually enhance the search experience for users as the knowledge and technology of search develops.

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Tuesday, 16 September 2008

LinkedIn introduces ad network

MediaPost reports that the business networking site, LinkedIn, is to launch its own advertising network to enable marketers to reach niche business sectors. This is part of their move to increase the 'monetization' of the site, now that it has built a membership of 24 million members, half of whom are based outside the US.

The article says that although LinkedIn currently runs some targeted advertising related to information that members publicly share in their profiles, this new network will help advertisers to focus on pre-defined audience segments such as corporate executives, small businesses and IT professionals. The non-personally identifiable data available to advertisers includes job function, seniority, company size, gender and geography.

LinkedIn is also reportedly planning on introducing foreign-language versions and expand into other international markets later this year, as well as developing a number of new mobile applications for users.

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Friday, 12 September 2008

Google's view of duplicate content

Google's Webmaster Blog has posted a 'definitive' answer to the question of duplicate web page content and whether a penalty is applied to these pages or sites. It provides a summary of previous posts and articles related to the duplicate content issue, as well as a reminder of Google's guidelines on the matter.

Google's view on duplicate content is one that aims to reduce the use of 'cookie-cutter' pages to create multiple pages with very similar content, or 'screen scraping' where websites will directly copy information from other sites, which can be common for affiliate marketers. The bottom line is that Google wants to index original content, although recognises that this is not always possible for some websites, particularly those generating content dynamically.

Google's webmaster guidelines state that 'duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results'. There is further information here about this issue and ways to avoid it.

Like most search engines, Google aims to present a degree of variety within the search results and they will therefore filter out duplicate documents so that users experience less redundancy. This is done in a number of ways, such as grouping duplicate URLs into one cluster, or selecting what is seen to be the "best" URL to represent the duplicated cluster in search results and then by consolidating the properties of the URLs in the cluster, such as link popularity, to the representative URL.

In summary, this post says that Google is unlikely to implement any form of penalty unless it is decided that a website is duplicating deliberately - rather one version of the duplicated content is seen to be the 'best' option to be displayed within the ranking results.

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Tuesday, 9 September 2008

New geographic report included in AdWords

The Google AdWords blog has announced the introduction of a new report format available to their PPC advertisers. The Geographic Performance report provides users with data on the geographic distribution of impressions, clicks, and conversions down to the ad group level. This data reflects the IP address location of searchers who click on the ads and can help advertisers see where the best traffic is coming from and therefore enable better location targeting within any campaign.

Data is shown by day over the selected period and breaks down the number of impressions by country, region and city / suburb, depending on the information available from the campaign. With conversion data being included as well, this is another way for advertisers to review and refine their campaigns to those geographic areas that are performing most effectively.



Friday, 5 September 2008

Google's '10 Steps to Online Promotion'

Google have launched a new online tool in Australia called '10 Steps to Promote Your Business Online'. The new Flash website has subtle branding so that it doesn't appear to be a mainstream Google product and is mainly intended to be used as a promotional tool and guide for small businesses to introduce and encourage them to use Google AdWords to market their website.

It's a simple to use and cleverly designed site that helps to lead new online marketers through the process of setting up a marketing plan and an online marketing (PPC) campaign for their own specific business, all linked closely to Google's products and services. Users are led through the 10 steps with simple stages to read and input their own requirements, with the option to save their plans at any point (and therefore a good data collection tool for Google).

It can take some time to work through but can be a good starting point for small businesses who have little knowledge or experience of this sector and want the 'hand-holding' to develop a campaign for themselves.

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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Google announces launch of new web browser

Google has announced the launch of a new Internet browser that will challenge Internet Explorer and the growing popularity of Mozilla's Firefox. Called Google Chrome, the new browser is an open source browser that has been made available today across more than 100 countries.

A Google browser has been expected for some time and the company says that they are introducing this new browser to 'add value for users and, at the same time, help drive innovation on the web'. The blog says that the web browser needed a rethink as the web has developed to one of rich, interactive applications and the browser aims to cater for this market.

The new Google Chrome browser window is 'streamlined and simple' so that it takes a back seat position to provide web users with the tools to get the most from their online activites. Each browser tab is kept in an isolated "sandbox" to prevent one tab from crashing another and to provide improved protection from rogue sites. Google claims that the browser offers improved speed and responsiveness and includes a powerful JavaScript engine to manage the next generation of web applications.

The beta launch is designed to generate feedback and further development as the initial Windows browser is also adapted for Mac and Linux. As an open source project the new browser uses components taken from Apple's WebKit and Mozilla's Firefox plus all the code is provided as an open source tool to encourage online collaboration to develop the product in the future.

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Monday, 1 September 2008

Web marketing newsletter published for September

The September issue of the monthly Web Marketing newsletter has been published today, covering some of the recent stories on web search and online marketing trends.

This month's edition looks at Google's PageRank algorithm and what information this provides to web marketers, plus asks how much attention this should be given. It also reviews a series of recent blog postings from Google that begin to expose the search quality processes that are undertaken by the company to monitor and improve their natural search listings. Finally the newsletter looks at the latest quarterly figures for online advertising spend in Australia, published by the IAB, which shows search marketing spend continuing to grow and dominate the market.

If you want to sign up for future issues of this newsletter, please do so by using the form at the bottom of this page. To view back issues of this newsletter you can see the archive by date or by subject.