Is Google really scared of Bing?
by Andrew Grinaker, VP
The headline from Sunday's New York Post, "Fear Grips Google", would lead the average internet user to believe that Google is in fact scared of Bing and losing search market share.
The New York Post article states that Google co-founder and engineering genius Sergey Brin has assembled a team of top engineers to work on urgent updates to the Google search engine and review the advantages of Bing's search algorithm. Also stated in the article is how Brin himself will lead the team of specialists, something rarely seen since he stepped out of day to day operations.
As you should all know by now, Microsoft launched a $100 million advertising and marketing campaign for their new search engine Bing.com. Being located just miles from Microsoft campus, we have heard plenty about the search engine, including a beam of blue light being shot from the famous Space Needle in Seattle for promotional purposes.
Microsoft's main motivation for the new search engine was to attempt to gain market share in a search industry that has long been dominated by Google. Just before the launch Google had a 60 percent share, while MSN Live (the former Microsoft search) had an abysmal 8 percent share.
New search features and search categories have received a welcoming response from critics online. The new launch with Bing has provided decent returns with an increase to 11 percent market share, prompting articles such as the New York Post about Google becoming scare of the new "decision engine."
I am glad to see that Bing has provided an additional option for searching, but we are very far away from Bing taking chunks of Google's market share from them. People have long used Google.com and like the fact that it is simple and easy to use. Sergey Brin wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't try to uncover advantages in Bing's algorithm or make improvements to his own search engine.
Bing has done a good job at causing a stir, but until Microsoft starts reaching at least 1 in 4 search users (25%) instead of 1 in 9 search users (11%), I can't believe that Google is actually scared or "gripped with fear."
Entries for Jun, 2009
Jun 18, 2009
Is Google really scared of Bing?
Jun 12, 2009
by Tam Nguyen
I know you are going to find this hard to believe, but therewere in fact quite a few flourishing and thriving websites before Google Adwords. I have an ominous feeling; I might be burned at the stake after thisarticle.
For those you out there who don't know: PPC or "Pay Per Click" refers to text-basedmarketing, where companies/webmasters get charged by the click whenever asurfer clicks on their paid ads. Searchrankings are usually based on bidding prices. These are usually designated onthe engines as "sponsored listings". Companies can bid on keywords or even whole phrases ranging from .50cents to $50. Daily budgets can reached into the thousands of dollars. Even ifyou are not paying $50 a click for a visitor to your website, you needto realize that you are charged for every click, whether or not that surferends up buying your product or signs up for a newsletter. I don't know about you, but in this recessionI don't know how this could be a sound business decision.
We stop all PPC campaigns including shopping engines at thebeginning of the New Year, but unlike other New Year's resolution, we actuallysaw this one through. And like a smokerthat has quit for six months, I couldn't feel better and happier.
There are plenty of other free and inexpensive EcommerceMarketing strategies a company can employ rather than having to use PPC. Here a few examples that we have implemented overthe last PPC-free month:
- Affiliate Marketing
- SEO Optimization
- Blog Marketing
- Social Networking - FaceBook, Twitter
- Multichannel Selling - Amazon, eBay
A good knowledge of web marketing can make any of thesetools work for you. However, true success will not be reached until thebusiness owner stops looking at their company and their product, and focuses onthe customer. Internet marketing is allwell and good for any ecommerce site, but none of these matters if you don'ttake of your customers.
Jun 10, 2009
by Dave Riensche, Art Director
I'll never forget my first solo trip on the Moscow Subway system.
It went like this:
I know I'm here at Medvedkovo. I need to go seven stops, then get off. That stop will be Prospekt Mira, although I won't be able to see any signs or understand the name as it's called out. So I really really need to remember to count all seven stops.
The experience was stressful. I worried about what might happen if I got off on the wrong stop. If I got lost, who would I call? How would I tell them where I was if I didn't know myself, let alone understand how to get where I needed to go. Seven stops. Seven stops in a country where I was virtually alone and didn't speak the language well enough to do any good.
I managed to stay focused and counted all seven stops correctly. Disaster avoided. But I still had to go home.
And I moved here intentionally?
But then I saw it. Like a beacon of hope, a tourist's dream, a translation of the most important traveling information in the city in a language everyone understands: visuals. You see it; you understand it. I'm referring to the beautifully designed Moscow Metro (Subway) Map.
Once I saw this map, I packed one with me everywhere I went for the next two years, the same amount of time I lived there. I kept a large version of the map folded up in the left breast pocket of my coat, zipped up and secure right next to my wallet, and a smaller laminated version inside my wallet. The larger map was nice for mapping out a plan of travel from wherever I may have been at the time, and the smaller one was a convenient way to check my progress along the way, without looking like a tourist.
The methodology behind the map is nothing revolutionary. Its effectiveness is simply a result of sound execution, not to mention the system's architects planned the travel routes and station positions quite well.
Like many subway systems, the various lines are color-coded. I never referred to a line by its formal name, and I never heard anyone else do it either. (Although they may have been sparing me the confusion.) It was always something like "I need to go to Molodyozhnaya"¦ it's the near the end of the light blue line." Take a look at the map, find the light blue line, then find Molodyozhnaya. That's it. The hardest part is reading the name. The circles represent stops. Two or more circles joined by a black outline represent a place where you can transfer between the lines. If you need to go somewhere, the simplest route is to travel to the main circle line, transfer, travel around the circle, then transfer at a station that will take you where you need to go.
So what's the big deal? Many subway systems use the same visual clues. What makes Moscow's so special?
To answer that, it's necessary to present the villain in this tale: the NYC subway system.
I look at this and I hurt. Full-blown migraine. For example, look right in the middle of the map, far to the west, at the blue line. What does "A, C, E" mean? What about the "1, 2, 3, 9" in red right next to it? Okay, so I look at the legend. No help. "Broadway-Nassau Fulton Street," followed by "Subway A, C, J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4, 5?" Not much of an explanation. Trying to map out a route? Good luck.
I'm pretty sure this map is only understood by locals who already know the system. In other words, it does nothing to educate the newcomer. It's kind of like going to someone's house and being asked to find the TV Guide from two months ago and your only hint is that it's near the gift wrap. Huh? Exactly. No help unless you already know where either the TV Guide or the gift wrap is. Nice one, Mr. Metaphor, but what's your point?
I'm getting to that. But first, to recap:
My experience with the New York subway system was the exact opposite of my experience in Moscow. In Moscow, I couldn't communicate with anyone, but I didn't need to. Even in a foreign language (unlike the example above, the local maps were in Russian) the map saved me daily. In New York, I quickly learned that in order to get anywhere, I better just ask someone, because the map didn't do anything for me, aside from tell me where I currently was. And it couldn't do that without confusing me with a bunch of other information I didn't understand.
As someone who designs websites, and observes all the other processes that sandwich the design, I see a big lesson here. Anyone can build a website. How its users experience it, however, depends on the planning and experience and know-how and skill and care of the builders.
I heart NY. But I heart Moscow's subway + map more.
Jun 05, 2009
Building a Sense of Community in the Workplace
by Ivy Wilson, Office Manager/HR
I've often heard people say they spend more time with their co-workers than with their own family members. That sentiment could not be truer during these tough economic times. Phrases like "work husband" and "work wife" are now common vernacular as many companies have opted out of filling positions and have asked their employees to give an extra 10% (or more). This can translate into longer hours, heavier workloads, and a heavier reliance on co-workers.
During tough times like this it is important for companies to place an emphasis on building community, camaraderie, and a sense of teamwork in the work place. There are many different ways to build community while maintaining a professional work environment. Recognizing birthdays and special milestones in employee lives is one way to spread community. If an employee is having a birthday, send around a card for the workplace to sign. If an employee welcomes a new child or becomes engaged take up a collection of few dollars from coworkers and pick up a dozen roses at your local grocery store. This is an easy way to extend congratulations and commemorate a special day for the individual.
Costco is now offering gift cards at a reduced price. For instance you can purchase five $20 gift cards to Starbucks for a price of $80. They also have gift card packages in which you can purchase two $50 gift cards to local restaurants for $80. These are great to purchase in bulk and keep on hand for managers to disburse at their discretion for a job well done.
Sometimes we become aware of an employee who may be having a difficult time. Even the highest performing employees are affected by personal misfortune. This can include illness of a loved one, divorce, death of a family member, or a spouse losing their job. There are many respectful and professional ways you can support coworkers during personally difficult times and help build a sense of community.
Vacation sharing/donating is a great way to build teamwork. Recently a friend of mine donated some of her vacation to a woman in her office who was experiencing a difficult divorce. Three of her co-workers banded together and sacrificed their own vacation to provide their coworker with an extra week off to get her affairs in order and spend time with her children during a tough transition. These pay-it-forward acts of kindness increase office morale for everyone not just the recipient.
Recently, our office came together to support a co-worker after his young nephew passed away. We had high levels of participation as employees purchased toys and stuffed animals that were then donated to Seattle Children's Hospital in the child's name. It was not a large expense to employees but the participation was greatly appreciated by the employee and it helped better our larger community.
Often these small acts have significant meaning to the individuals and are very motivating to employees. When employees feel a sense of community they are more vested in their workplace and tend to enjoy their jobs more. This leads to more productive and efficient workplaces.
Jun 04, 2009
A hot topic for 2009 is "real time search" and I'm sure we will hear more and more about this in the months to come. Now that the online community is making the transition to sites like Twitter it brings a component to search that we have not witnessed in the past(at least, not in this magnitude), it only stands to reason that the ability to search for real time info is coming along for the ride. It seems like the topic of real time search is popping up left and right and all of the major players have their own version of this "˜next step' in search.
Why "real time" search? Well, as the internet becomes a much more socialized community, people are looking for interesting and current content that was not traditionally found in real time when using a search engine. These new-school real time search engines are making an attempt to fill the void that traditional search engines have not been able to, and they are tackling this task by indexing these social media services in a matter of seconds.
As we have seen this week, Microsoft decided to make a run to compete with Google as they launched their Bing search portal, which I admit that like. But Microsoft didn't just stop there. For those of you that use IE8, you have an option for real time search that you might not be aware of. With IE8, you have more options to make add-ons to their browser (which also helps IE to compete with every SEOs browser of choice, Firefox). Microsoft has granted a real time search engine known as OneRiot to accompany their typical search results. After taking a test drive of OneRiot, it seems to do exactly what they claim: provide up to the minute results on any topic that has been discussed, tweeted, blogged, or reported about. And as an added bonus, the folks at OneRiot have added a video search to their portal.
We are entering the era when people are looking for up to date content, regardless of the topic. It is going to be very interesting to see how the other big players in search will adapt to this arena and grab their share of the market.
Jun 03, 2009
When you hear someone say Wordpress, what's the first thing that comes to mind? A blogging tool? If so, you'd be right. Wordpress has forced its way into mainstream by offering an extremely easy to use, and powerful blogging engine. I've hear Wordpress being compared to a Mac. Easy to figure out and not a lot of hassle getting set up. But has Wordpress come so far along that it has started to creep into the CMS domain?
If you do a Google search for "Open Source Free CMS's" you're likely to come up with some of the heavy-hitters: Joomla, Drupal, ModX etc... These beasts set the standards to which other CMS's are trying to emulate. Free, open-source, scalable, tons of community support and fairly easy to use. So where does Wordpress fit in? If you've ever used Wordpress you'd know that you can be up and running with a simple site faster than a jackrabbit on a date! Where I believe these other CMS's fall a little short is the sheer speed and idiot-proof plug-ins that are available with Wordpress. Need a photo gallery? Just do a search for it within Wordpress, and you'll immediately have about 20 pre-made ones to choose from. Find one you like, try it out, and if you don't like it simply remove it. Nothing difficult about that! If you get stuck, there are so many tutorials, forums and communities there to help.
OK, so you've spent about an hour or two getting your site set up, and now you want to apply a design. This is going to be a long process... right? No. Just do another Google search for "Wordpress templates" and you'll have so many hits you could search templates for hours on end. Jut download the one you like, upload it, and apply it. Done. Man that was easy! Now it does take some finessing to set your site up to look more like a regular website, rather than a blog, but there are many guides out there to help you through this process.
So what does this mean for the big guys like Drupal, Joomla, ModX etc.. Nothing. Wordpress will most likely always be just a blogging engine. The big guys have nothing to worry about because they offer something Wordpress doesn't. The ability to create VERY customized sites. I definitely would not recommend using Wordpress for your corporate web solution, but if you have the need for a small site, and want something easy to use then go for it!
I think Wordpress has set the standard for ease of use, and I hope this will change how the big guys think too.
Jun 02, 2009
As I wrote about the topic of DuplicateContent and how having the same content as someone else on theinternet can hurt your search engine rankings, there is another version of duplicatecontent that not many people talk (or even know) about. This form of duplication has nothing to dowith a potential competitor that has stolen your content; rather it deals withhow you have been structuring your website. This is commonly known in the SEO world as canonicalization ofdomain. This comes from the root "canonical",which means to reduce something to its simplest form. When we talk about canonicalization of domainfor SEO, we are talking about the process of picking the best URL when you haveseveral choices. This is most commonlyreferred to for your home page.
You may be thinking, "But I only have one website, why wouldI have several choices?" Well, at firstglance, you would think that there was only one URL. In reality, and according to the searchengines (which is what you should be concerned about), there are multipleversions of your website. Let's say thatyou have a site, "mysite.com". Here are some of the potential URLs that asearch engine could find for that domain:
Although those URLs appear the same, they could turn into differentcontent when you go to each URL individually. So the question remains; how do you avoid this issue and make yourdomain canonical? Well, there are severalways. First, you could create your websiteusing the same URL structure from the ground up, but that would be impossibleif you have a site that has grown over the years. Second, you can go through your website anddetermine what version of the URL you want to set as the permanent one that youwill use from here on out, and go with it. Once you have picked the URL, you then need to create a permanent 301redirect on your server (NOT a temporary 302 redirect!). When you do this, your server will handle anyrequest for any of the alternative versions of your URL and it will respond toa request with your preferred URL. Thesearch engines will eventually realize that this is your preferred URL, and youwill have solved the issue of canonicalization of domain.
If you are unsure or you just don't feel like making changesat the server level, don't fret. Thereis a new method to achieving this result, and it is much easier. In February 2009, Google, Yahoo, andMicrosoft agreed that they were going to support the use of the Canonical LinkElement. This tag goes into the <HEAD>of your source code and it will tell the search engines what the canonical(preferred) URL is. This makes life alot easier than having to make changes on the server end. Here is the Canonical Tag code, where youwould place your preferred URL if your canonical URL was "www.mysite.com":
All you have to do is add this code to your headers, and you have now used an alternative method to canonicalize your domain.
Jun 01, 2009
Review on Microsoft Search Engine Bing
by Andrew Grinaker, VP of Business Development/Strategy
Microsoft's new search engine "Bing" was officially released to the public today (June 1st) and according to Tech Flash it is getting some good reviews. Well, I had to put it to the test and provide (5) observations that I have made about Microsoft's new search engine.
1) Simple, straight forward design "“ Microsoft finally figured out to cut out the fluff and go straight for what website visitors are looking for "“ targeted information! The "Popular now" is also a nice feature that I am sure will grow over time once Bing starts getting more search results.
2) Left Hand Navigation "“ Probably the most original and forward thinking initiative for Microsoft when building out Bing. When doing a search for "laptops," I was presented with a Google like interface for the basic search results, but the left hand navigation provided easy entry points like Shopping, Brands, Buying Guide, Repair, Accessories, etc. When clicking on the "Shopping" tab I was presented with only search options that would take me to Shopping sites. Great new feature.
3) Local Search "“ I have always been a critic of Local Search and its ability to pinpoint a targeted search for me. I started off by searching for "sushi, Kirkland, wa" knowing what search result I was hoping to find. At first, it takes you to an "All Results" page but gives you the option to choose the "Local" tab. After choosing the tab, it starts with giving me SPONSORED LISTINGS from YellowPage, which as usual aren't as targeted, giving me 2 out of 3 locations located in Duval, which is about 10 miles away from Kirkland. However, additional features help me locate the closest Sushi restaurant after a few more clicks. Overall, easy to use and provides additional information I would normally have to dig for.
4) Maps Feature "“ In the past, I have not been a fan of the Microsoft mapping technology, but they have done a good job with relevant results in the mapping feature. The Add to Collections feature is excellent to keeping your past restaurants, parks and other locations saved and create easy ways for users to drop pins for businesses, draw colored areas on the map that are relevant and create directions.
5) Rollover Feature "“ Last but certainly not least, the preview rollover feature on the search results. When receiving your search results for a particular keyword query, you can rollover the SERP and receive a preview of the page without clicking on it. It only provides indexable content but it also provides content and will help limit people clicking on parked sites and keep search time a minimum.
Overall Score: 95/100 "“ Shocked, I know! Microsoft has done a fantastic job in providing a search engine that limits the amount of time you spend, provides valuable content relevant links and delivers targeted information.
Best Features: Shopping Function, Left Hand Navigation, Preview Rollover
Worst Features: Placement of Sponsored Listing (but hey, everyone has to get paid)
I only have one question; will we see an iPhone application?
Jun 01, 2009
Back from the Transition
After a strategic transition inside our company to our new CEO, Loren Skaggs and also acquiring some new business, we are back with the blog.
We will be back to weekly blog updates about the interactive industry, how your company can utilize the web, social media trends and the latest web development improvements and updates.
Check back in the next 24-48 hours for more juicy information on the interactive industry.